The number of Russians arriving daily in neighbouring Georgia has nearly doubled since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation for the war in Ukraine, officials in Tbilisi said Tuesday.
Putin’s announcement has sparked a new wave of exodus to the Caucasus country of Georgia which has been a major destination for Russians fleeing since the war began on February 24.
“Four to five days ago 5,000-6,000 (Russians) were arriving in Georgia daily. The number has grown to some 10,000 per day,“ Georgia’s interior minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told journalists.
Over the first four months of the war, nearly 50,000 Russians have fled to Georgia, where they can stay for a year without a visa, the tiny Black Sea nation’s statistics office said in June.
Some 40,000 more fled over the same period to Armenia, another top destination that also has no visa requirement for Russians.
On Tuesday, the local interior ministry in a Russian region that borders Georgia said there was a back-up of around 5,500 cars waiting to reach the Georgian border.
The influx of Russians has sparked mixed feelings in a country where painful memories of Russia’s 2008 invasion are still fresh.
The five-day war left Georgia partitioned, with Russian troops stationed in its two separatist regions which the Kremlin recognised as independent after the EU brokered a ceasefire.