The Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia will not give refuge to Russians who want to flee Russia after Vladimir Putin ordered a “partial mobilization” that will call up 300,000 reservists as part of preparations to escalate in Ukraine.
The Baltic nations have banned virtually all Russian travelers from entering their territory and won’t make exceptions for Russians who want to avoid being drafted. “A refusal to fulfill one’s civic duty in Russia or a desire to do so does not constitute sufficient grounds for being granted asylum in another country,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told Reuters.
On Twitter, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics cited security reasons as to why Latvia won’t accept Russians fleeing the mobilization. “Due to security reasons, Latvia will not issue humanitarian or other types of visas to those Russian citizens who avoid mobilization,” he wrote.
Putin’s mobilization order sparked protests in Russia and a spike in the purchase of tickets for flights out of Russia, signaling that some Russians will attempt to avoid being called up. According to the Russian human rights group OVD-Info, more than 1,300 Russians were detained in demonstrations across 38 Russian cities.
Baltic officials have framed the measures barring Russians from traveling are meant to punish ordinary Russians for Putin’s war. The actions came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West to ban all Russians, saying the “whole population” of Russia was responsible for the war and that they should be punished.
Putin said that under his mobilization plans, Russia will call up reservists with prior military experience. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that the 300,000 people that will be called up represents just 1% of the 25 million reservists he says are available.