Many Russians are against the idea of fighting for Putin, and are trying to seek refuge in other countries. “More and more citizens of Russia are realizing that they must die simply because one person does not want to end the war,” Zelenskyy said. (Russian protests against war in Ukraine / Silar / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Many Russians are against the idea of fighting for Putin, and are trying to seek refuge in other countries. “More and more citizens of Russia are realizing that they must die simply because one person does not want to end the war,” Zelenskyy said.

Russian protests against war in Ukraine / Silar / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Putin’s conscription policies prompt Russians to seek refuge

October 21, 2022

President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would mobilize 300,000 Russian citizens to reinforce the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. 

Fearing conscription, many Russian men fled the country and find refuge in other countries worldwide. According to ABC News, 98,000 Russians have sought refuge in Kazakhstan, and 100,000 more in Georgia. 

Many countries have opened up as a refuge for Russians seeking to escape. In a white house press briefing, White House Speaker Karine Jean-Pierre declared that Russians who are seeking asylum could come to the United States.

According to NPR, many Russian men are fleeing with very few plans for the future. By packing light, the men convinced Russian officials that going to Turkey was for a short trip and not to evade conscription. As a result, flights from Russia to Turkey have been sold out for many weeks. 

Russians have been working together to escape the situation at hand and have communicated through group chats. According to ABC News, one group chat called “Guide to the Free World,” has 100,000 members.

“I’m going to avoid getting conscripted at all costs. If I have to break my arm, I’ll do it. If I have to break a policeman’s jaw and go to jail, so be it. But I will not become an invader. I will not kill innocent people because a murderous lunatic wants me to,” said Konstantin, a Russian who refuses conscription but cannot leave the country, in an article by The Guardian.

It just shows that Russia was not as prepared for the wars as they thought it was going to be a lot easier, and now they realize if they want to have the success that they anticipated, they’re going to have to have civilians fight.

— Marcus Oettinger

Putin’s conscription plan aims to give Russia an edge in the nearly eight-month-long war in Ukraine. Putin’s initial motivation for the invasion was to annex Ukraine into Russia and assimilate the Russian Ukrainians into Russia.

“I don’t feel that Putin’s tactics have been reasonable at all. I get his intentions, but I don’t feel like they necessarily became advantageous. It was more to his disadvantage that he invaded Ukraine because now everyone hates him,” said Ylann Bouis, a junior at Carlmont. 

Despite Russia having an overwhelming military advantage, Ukraine has been able to fight back and prevent Russia from completely taking over with funding from other countries. Two months into the war, the United States provided $54 billion in assistance to Ukraine. 

“Ukrainians know what they are fighting for. And more and more citizens of Russia are realizing that they must die simply because one person does not want to end the war,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine in a public statement.

According to Jacob Rybkin, a sophomore at Carlmont with family in Russia, many people participating in Russia’s mandatory military service are high school and college students. The participants and the conscripted are being sent to fight along the front lines.

When Russians took notice of the impact Putin’s actions could have on them, many decided to escape the country. (Vladimir Putin 2022 Annexation Speech / Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0)

“In Russia, there’s mandatory service for high school and college students, and a lot of those people in the mandatory service are the ones that are being sent while the mobilization is occurring. Even still, they’re conscripting people who don’t even know what they’re getting into,” Rybkin said.

Rybkin also explained that figuring out what’s happening with Russians with their conscription situations can be difficult. 

“With my extended family in Russia, some of them are just sitting tight and waiting for it to blow over. We can’t contact most of them because we don’t want them to get in trouble. The government monitors what is going on so I don’t know if any of them are actually fighting for Russia right now because of that,” Rybkin said.  

Putin’s conscription plan was unexpected, considering the fact that many thought Russia would easily overwhelm Ukraine with its superior military force.

“It just shows that Russia was not as prepared for the wars as they thought it was going to be a lot easier, and now they realize if they want to have the success that they anticipated, they’re going to have to have civilians fight,” said Marcus Oettinger, a junior at Carlmont. Obviously, Russians aren’t very happy with that, so it’ll be interesting to see where that goes.” 

Salvaging a faltering war through annexation

Along with conscription, Putin is currently in the process of annexing eastern Ukraine. Putin signed treaties to annex the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.  

Putin stated that he would do everything in his power to defend his newly annexed territory.

“I know that especially right now, one of their tactics is to dwindle down on the people by cutting off things like electricity and radio signals,” Rybkin said. “People are definitely having a hard time, especially now since a lot of it is a complete blackout.”

Putin’s actions have been deemed internationally illegal by the United Nations. According to NPR, three-quarters of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of condemning Russia.

Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy. The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.

— Joe Biden

“Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy. The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders,” said United States President Joe Biden in a statement condemning annexation.

According to AP News, Zelenskyy will now attempt to hasten Ukraine’s process of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in response to annexation and will refuse to negotiate with Putin. 

“We submitted our application for admission, it was endorsed by the organization. Ukraine received the special status of the acceding country, and we will fulfill all the necessary conditions for full membership,” Zelenskyy said in a public statement.

Although Putin’s original intent in invading Ukraine was to annex it into Russian territory, people must now wait to see how that’ll play out.

“Many people anticipated that annexation was going to happen when Putin decided to invade and it’s something that’s interesting because a lot of Russians do live there. Some of them obviously want to be part of Russia but others want to be part of Ukraine,” Oettinger said. “I think it’s kind of interesting to see where it goes because that’s the flash point that will determine where the rest of the war ends up going.”

What comes next

The possibilities of what will come next are endless. After eight months of fighting, it is still unclear who will prevail.

“In terms of Russian and Ukrainian relationships with other countries, if one of them succeeds, then it definitely affects the world,” Bouis said.

The most tantalizing possibility is the prospect of nuclear war since Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear bombs to win the war against Ukraine. According to Alliance for Science at Cornell, a full-scale nuclear war would collapse human civilization entirely. 

“Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the winds can also turn in their direction,” Putin said

These threats have invoked anxiety from individuals worldwide, especially considering the global impacts of nuclear war. 

“If there’s a nuclear war, that will affect all of us. Seeing things is not just what’s happening in a faraway country. Yes, it’s happening in Russia, but it affects all of us,” Oettinger said.

Many people are also worried about the economy’s continuing struggle because of the war. According to MIT Management Sloan School, the war has resulted in a massive food shortage, as Ukraine and Russia produce 33% of the world’s wheat and 75% of the world’s sunflower oil. 

Another critical resource shortage going on because of the war is gasoline. Russia is a significant oil producer and owns about 10% of the world’s oil. 

“Most of the oil pipelines go through Ukraine, and those two countries have a huge impact on the world. It’s just a lot of cause and effect. If it does grow, it’s going to affect a lot of people in Europe and Africa, and it’s like the rest of the world from it,” Rybkin said.

When looking to the future, Oettinger expressed the importance of being aware of what is happening in Russia and Ukraine.

“It’s certainly a topic that’s important to keep our eye on. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the most important thing we face as a country. Still, it’s important to keep your eye on because it deals with issues directly tied to us as Americans and our view of the world order as a whole,” Oettinger said.

About the Contributor
Photo of Evan Leong
Evan Leong, Scot Scoop Editor
Evan Leong is a senior at Carlmont High School, and this is his third year in journalism. He is excited to continue his journalism journey as an editor for Scot Scoop while exploring new ideas and writing topics. Outside of school, he enjoys playing violin, chess, basketball, and hanging out with friends. View his portfolio here.

Twitter: @eLeong21

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