Sold-out flights out of Russia and protests against the Kremlin following Vladimir Putin’s announcement of the partial mobilisation of some 300,000 reservists to step up military activity in the Donbas. The unprecedented exodus of Russian men, which exceeds even the outflow after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, divides the European Union in the dilemma of whether or not to grant them asylum.
The Baltic states and Poland have already taken the position of restricting the entry of Russian citizens, including those on Schengen visas, to the maximum extent possible. Helsinki has now joined them, arguing that taking them in could cause “serious damage to Finland’s international standing”. Sanna Marin’s government has decided to do so after registering a 57% increase in Russian travellers in the country on the same day as Putin’s announcement.
“Many Russians who are now fleeing Russia because of the mobilisation were fine with Ukrainians being killed. They did not protest then. Admitting them entails considerable security risks and many countries outside the EU where they can go,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted. For this reason, and for these countries that have suffered most from Russian imperialism, fleeing Russia to avoid being conscripted does not mean dissidence. Moreover, they argue that KGB agents can always be infiltrated.