Europe faces dilemma on Russians fleeing Putin's draft

1 day ago 29

BRUSSELS - The European Union is facing a tough balancing act over how to deal with Russians fleeing military mobilisation, as some countries look to block entry and others offer possible refuge.

President Vladimir Putin's order on Wednesday calling up hundreds of thousands to fight in Ukraine appeared to send droves of Russian men scrambling for the exit in a bid to avoid going to the front lines.

Flights to countries granting visa-free entry to Russians, mainly neighbouring former Soviet republics, were nearly entirely booked up despite rocketing prices, and queues were reported at some borders.

So far, the numbers coming to the EU seem modest as the bloc had already curtailed travel from Russia by banning direct flights and toughening up visa rules in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Finland - the only member that had kept its land border open with Moscow - reported that arrivals from Russia doubled to 6,470 the day after Putin's announcement.

But despite the small scale, the issue is stirring debate in Brussels as EU members adopt starkly differing approaches to Russians looking to escape the fighting.

The Baltic states and Poland - which had already gone further than others in the EU by drastically restricting entry for Russians with visas - are

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