By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Thousands of Russians have continued to flee to neighbouring Kazakhstan, leading to long queues at the Vishnevka border over fear of being invited to join in the war in Ukraine.
About 98,000 Russians are said to have crossed into Kazakhstan in the week since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation of reservists.
Moscow had said it will mobilise more 300,000 to bolster its offensive in Ukraine which has continued to since February. Defence analysts have raised concern on the ability of Putin to mobilise the number, train and equip them for the war.
There are speculations that this may not be unconnected with the counteroffensive being put in place by Kyiv, leading to heavy causalities on the side of Russian forces.
The fleeing Russians willing to testify are unambiguous about their motives for travelling.
“The mobilisation was announced as partial, but according to the documents it appears to be full,” says one man who chose not to give his name. “And the president’s words do not correspond to what is written on the paper. The people standing here are afraid that sooner or later, a full mobilisation will be announced, and then no one will be able to cross the borders.”
Some too are travelling by train over the increasing cost of taxi to the borders. Kazakhstan has promised not to send them back.
“The territorial integrity of states must be inviolable,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kazakhstan’s president. “This is the key principle. I have always spoken about this openly and clearly in the international arena.”
Tokayev also said Kazakhstan won’t recognise the referendums in Ukraine’s occupied territories – a defiant stand from a country that’s traditionally been seen as an ally of Moscow.