Putin’s war in tatters as thousands of Russians FLEE to escape conscription – ‘not wanted

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Thousands are said to be trying to reach the United States to claim political asylum and avoid being forced to fight in the war with Ukraine. US immigration lawyers have reportedly been overwhelmed with requests from Russian men and their families asking if America will grant them political protection following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Record numbers of Russian citizens have already been crossing into the US from Mexico to claim political asylum in recent months, according to the Telegraph, in response to Putin’s increasingly brutal crackdown on opposition.

Immigration lawyers said they expect the numbers will “sky rocket” following the invasion of Ukraine, particularly from military age men who fear they will be conscripted into the army to fight Ukrainians.

The Russian government has already called up conscripts and reservists aged between 18 and 60.

But many Russians have openly opposed the war, with many saying the battle is “not wanted” by the people of Russia. Thousands of people joined demonstrations across Russia last week to protest against the invasion of Ukraine, which began in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Experts say the number of people fleeing Russia in search of safety in the US has risen dramatically in recent months.

Last year, the number of Russians who were apprehended by border officials at the US’ southern border with Mexico soared to 9,736 – up from just 467 in 2020.

The rise in the number of Russians trying to reach America has been linked to President Putin’s clampdown on dissent, which has become increasingly ruthless since protests erupted across the country last year in support of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The numbers have been increasing rapidly as Russians and also Ukrainians have found a route to the US by making their way across the border.

Last month, 1,028 Russians and 248 Ukrainians crossed the southern border, with the majority crossing from Tijuana to San Diego, the Telegraph reported.

Ekaterina Mouratova, a Russian-American immigration lawyer based in Miami, said that she had been inundated with emails from Russian men who do not want to fight in the war asking whether they could get protection in the US for themselves and their families.

She said: “We have never been so busy.

“But the number is going to skyrocket. I have got tons of emails in the last few days – hundreds.

“They are mostly men between 20 and 55 who are asking if they can get protection from the US if Russia does a mandatory military draft. These people do not want to go to war.

“Conditions in Russia are becoming harsher and harsher and there is a lot of political instability around the region. More and more people are looking for a way out.”

Thousands of Russians have voiced their opposition to the war in Ukraine, risking a brutal response from authorities.

The government crackdown on protesters has been swift and ruthless, with more than 1500 people arrested on Thursday night alone.

Ms Mouratova said her company, the Immigration Centre of Ekaterina Mouratova, is already dealing with “dozens of people” a week who have flown to Mexico from Russia, Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus.

She said many then took a route from Cancun to Tijuana where they presented themselves to US border agents and claimed political asylum.

Legal routes to the US for Russians have dwindled in recent years. The pandemic limited travel between the countries and took a toll on consular services, making it difficult for Russians to get a visa.

Options became even more limited as relations between the two countries deteriorated, with the US embassy in Moscow no longer offering tourist visas.

This has left Russian people who want to reach the US little choice but to take the route from Mexico.

One of her clients, Yevgeniy, a bank manager from Moscow, said there had been a growing resentment among the Russian people about the difficulties they faced while the country’s politicians were living in luxury.

Yevgeniy, who made the journey to the US in September with his wife, told the paper: “When people saw the luxurious lifestyle politicians had and that they weren’t doing anything for the people, lots of us took to the streets.

“But the protests became violent. I was beaten up and thrown in jail to teach me a lesson.”

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He said he became targeted by the authorities after complaining about his mistreatment in prison.

He said: “People started threatening my mother and I saw that police were arresting people on false charges saying they were extremists.

“One day they came to my apartment to seize my computer and electronics. I told them there was nothing on there, but they said they would for sure find extremist material. This was not an empty threat so I went to a friend’s apartment and started to research where I could go.”

Yevgeniy came up with the idea after watching a video on YouTube posted by a fellow Russian who had made the journey from Russia to San Diego via Mexico.

Increasing numbers of Ukrainians have also been fleeing to America in recent months via the same route, taking long and expensive journeys in search of safety while the threat of Russia has grown larger.

Ms Mouratova said she expected thousands more would come to the US now their country is under siege.

She said: “It’s sad. I have hundreds of clients with the same stories. They are not revolutionaries, they are simple people who are facing very harsh consequences. They are not economic migrants either. They have left everything behind.”

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