Report: 14,000 Russians Have Fled to Turkey over Ukraine War

An estimated 14,000 Russians have fled to Turkey since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last month, Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News reported on Monday.

“Some 14,000 Russians have fled to Turkey in just three weeks after the conflict in Ukraine broke out because of what they describe as deteriorating conditions in their country,” the publication reported on March 21.

“Russian and Ukrainian citizens are not required to have a visa to enter Turkey and can stay for up to three months in the country,” according to the Hürriyet Daily News.

The newspaper interviewed a 23-year-old Russian citizen named Ana who arrived in Turkey on March 7. She revealed that, in addition to Turkey, the nation of Georgia has likewise become a popular destination for people leaving Russia in recent weeks.

Another Russian national who recently arrived in Turkey named Vladimir Piskunov told the Hürriyet Daily News he originally planned to travel to Slovenia, “but the borders were closed and [his] plane tickets were canceled.” Piskunov then settled on Istanbul as his destination, arriving on February 28.

Uzbekistan has joined Turkey and Georgia as among the group of nations welcoming people fleeing Russia since it launched a war with neighboring Ukraine on February 24.

“At least several thousand Russians are estimated to have come to Uzbekistan, where some 2 percent of the population is ethnic Russian,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on March 20.

The U.S. government-funded broadcaster emphasized its report was based on estimations and anecdotal evidence, noting the Uzbek Migration Agency had yet to release any official figures confirming the recent Russian immigration.

Explaining why many Russians have seemingly chosen to leave Russia for Central Asia over the past month, RFE/RL wrote:

Along with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are popular destinations in Central Asia for fleeing Russians, as are the cities of Tbilisi, Yerevan, Helsinki, Dubai, Istanbul, and Antalya. They are all places that Russians are still allowed to fly to — many countries are preventing Russian planes from landing or flying over their territory — and places where a Russian passport is accepted without a visa.

Russia has been subjected to a slew of financial sanctions since starting its latest war with Ukraine on February 24. The U.S. government has encouraged the international community to follow its example and levy wide-ranging economic sanctions on Moscow to punish the Kremlin for launching what it describes as a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

The sanctions have precipitated a rapid decline of Russia’s economy in recent days and subsequently contributed to the exodus of its citizens to Central Asia, RFE/RL noted on Monday.

“[M]any Uzbek migrants from Russia who have lost their jobs due to the sanctions [have returned to Uzbekistan],” the U.S government-funded broadcaster observed on March 20.

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