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Kremlin rejects reports that 700,000 have fled Russia

crossings from russia at the vaalimaa border station in finland
Russian cars and buses line up at the Vaalimaa border check point between Finland and Russia, in Virolahti, Finland

The Kremlin on Thursday denied reports that 700,000 Russians have fled the country since Moscow announced a mobilisation drive to call up hundreds of thousands to fight in Ukraine.

In a briefing with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not have exact figures for how many people had left the country since President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a “partial mobilisation” on Sept. 21.

“I don’t think those numbers should be taken seriously,” Peskov said when asked about some reports in Russian media that up to 700,000 Russians could have left the country.

“I don’t have exact figures, but of course they are far from what’s being claimed there.”

Tens of thousands of Russians, mostly military-age men, have fled the country in a bid to avoid being called up to serve in Ukraine. Kazakhstan, Georgia and Mongolia – which all share land borders with Russia – reported a surge in the number of border crossings following Putin’s announcement.

But getting exact figures on how many have left for good is tricky.

Putin’s mobilisation drive has proved one of Moscow’s most unpopular moves since the conflict – which Russia calls a “special military operation” – began in February, triggering protests in cities and regions across the country.

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