New satellite images showing large numbers of Russians fleeing to Georgia and Mongolia have been released after Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilise hundreds of thousands of reservists for the conflict in Ukraine.
The images show queues of vehicles – cargo trucks and cars – waiting in long traffic jams attempting to get over the borders.
And according to Maxar, which has been tracking the conflict from its satellites, the queue to cross into Georgia stretches for well over 10 miles (16km).
At one point on Sunday, the estimated wait to enter Georgia hit 48 hours, with more than 3,000 vehicles queuing to cross the frontier, Russian state media reported.
The Georgian capital Tbilisi had already seen an influx of around 40,000 Russians since Moscow invaded Ukraine on 24 February, according to government statistics.
It comes amid unconfirmed Russian media reports that the Kremlin might soon close its borders to men of fighting age.
German officials have voiced a desire to help Russian men deserting military service and have called for a European-wide solution.
And in France, senators are arguing that Europe has a duty to help and warned that not granting refuge to fleeing Russians could play into Mr Putin’s hands.
However, other EU countries are adamant that asylum should not be offered to Russian men fleeing now – as the war has moved into its eighth month.
They include Lithuania, which borders Kaliningrad, a Russian Baltic Sea exclave.
Its foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, tweeted: “Russians should stay and fight. Against Putin.”
His counterpart in Latvia, also an EU member bordering Russia, said the exodus poses “considerable security risks” for the 27-nation bloc and that those fleeing now cannot be considered conscientious objectors since they did not act when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
One person who managed to escape to Finland, told Sky News that those who stay behind and protest face being killed.
Aleksander – not his real name – said: “I have some friends and acquaintances who were on the same wave as me and at the moment they are in Azerbaijan and Armenia and Belarus and some of them are also in the European Union.
“They all understand that it is impossible to make any difference while you are in Russia, to make any good, because soon it will not even be possible to talk about what’s going on even in your own kitchen.
“All those protests which are held in Russia, they are dispersed. Russia is a police state ruled by tyrants, and they will have enough of the police officials, special armed forces, to disperse all citizens.
“If a large number of people takes the streets, they can easily use arms. They already tried those methods in Belarus and we know how it ended.
“The regime will not fall. The regime is strong. They will have enough resources to kill their own citizens. I don’t want to be neither witness nor a participant of these events.”