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HomenewsConflicts follow Russians fleeing mobilization wherever they go

Conflicts follow Russians fleeing mobilization wherever they go

Tensions have flared in at least five nations which Russians have fled to since President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Since the start of the war, approximately one million Russians have moved abroad, with hundreds of thousands fleeing the country after Putin declared a partial mobilization of the population, which supposedly affected 300,000 reservists and ex-military personnel with “certain military specialties and relevant experience.”

Hundreds of thousands of Russians fled amid reports that those ineligible to be called up, including students, the elderly, and those with medical conditions and injuries, were handed a summons to fight in Ukraine.

Re: Russia, an analysis and policy network, found that the top nine recipient regions for Russian émigrés between February 2022 and July 2023 were Kazakhstan, Serbia, Armenia, Turkey, the European Union (EU), Israel, Montenegro, Georgia, and the United States, the Economist reported in August.

A handful of these regions have become embroiled in conflict in recent months.

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Foreign Ministry via email for comment.

Armenia

A conflict escalated last month in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians. The region had been governed by the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, also known as the Republic of Artsakh by Armenians.

Following a lightning offensive by Azerbaijan on September 19, separatist authorities announced that the ethnic Armenian enclave would dissolve on January 1, 2024, prompting a mass exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh toward Armenia, as tens of thousands of residents fled the disputed territory fearing persecution.

Large-scale conflicts broke out between the two countries in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union and tensions have remained high despite a Russian-brokered truce in 2020.

In the aftermath of the conflict, protestors took to the streets in Yerevan, Armenia, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over the government’s apparent failure to protect ethnic Armenians in the region.

Serbia

Tensions have escalated recently over land-locked Kosovo, which is surrounded by Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

On September 28, Kosovo’s interior minister accused Serbia of direct involvement in clashes and probed the possibility of Russian involvement in a shootout between Serb insurgents and Kosovo police, the Associated Press reported.

Analysts have raised concerns that tensions between Serbia and Kosovo could escalate into an armed conflict.

“Resolving the dispute between Kosovo and Serbia is no longer just a political matter, but a serious security issue for the region and for Europe,” Engjellushe Morina and Majda Ruge, senior policy fellows at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), wrote last month.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s interior minister said in a statement in October 2022 that more than 200,000 Russians had come to the neighboring Central Asian country since Putin’s mobilization decree was announced just days earlier.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Kazakh Service, relations between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have become strained recently over water.

Kazakhstan depends on Kyrgyzstan for water resources, and Kyrgyzstan in 2005 cut off supplies to Kazakhstan during a political crisis, and blackmailed its neighbor again last year by threatening to sever water supplies.

Georgia

Mass protests and violent clashes erupted in the Georgian capital Tbilisi in March against a proposed foreign agent law—which has since been scrapped—which critics feared would undermine the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration ambitions.

The country’s ruling party, the Georgian Dream party, said in a statement that it saw “how the legislation caused some turmoil.”

Critics said it was modeled on similar laws passed in Russia and other post-Soviet states, and which opposition groups feared would undermine the country’s efforts to join the European Union and NATO.

Israel

More than 1,100 people have been confirmed killed and thousands wounded, included civilians, in the aftermath of surprise attacks on Israel conducted by Hamas from the Gaza Strip since Saturday, and in Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Israel on Sunday formally declared war and called for “significant military steps” to be taken to retaliate against Hamas.

Kremlin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia is “extremely concerned” by the “spiral of violence” in Israel, and said the country doesn’t have information about Russian casualties as a result of the attacks.

According to Re: Russia, as many as 90,000 Russians have taken up residence in Israel since the war in Ukraine began.

Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine war? Let us know via worldnews@newsweek.com.

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