MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday that no decisions had been taken on closing Russia’s borders, amid an exodus of military-age men since President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilisation last Wednesday.
Asked about the possibility of border closures in a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I don’t know anything about this. At the moment, no decisions have been taken on this.”
Peskov also acknowledged that some call-ups had been issued in error, saying mistakes were being corrected by regional governors and the ministry of defence.
Peskov said: “There have been cases when the decree is violated … These cases of non-compliance with the required criteria are being eliminated.”
Russian media have reported a string of cases of elderly or medically exempt men being called up for service in Ukraine. Regional governors in Dagestan and Buryatia, two regions that have seen aggressive mobilisations, have said that mistakes were made in the initial rollout.
The comments come amid rising fears of a border closure, with Russia’s frontiers seeing an unprecedented outflow of military-aged men since the partial mobilisation was declared last week.
On Monday, a senior lawmaker said that Russian borders should be closed to draft-eligible men amid the exodus.
“Everyone who is of conscription age should be banned from travelling abroad in the current situation,” Sergei Tsekov, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, told RIA news agency.
Russian media based abroad, including news sites Meduza and Novaya Gazeta Europe, have reported that the Kremlin is planning to close the country’s borders for draft-aged men. Such reports have not appeared on the main media within Russia, where all independent outlets have been shut and reporting that differs from official accounts is banned.
On Sunday, Novaya Gazeta reported that 261,000 men had left the country since partial mobilisation was declared, citing an unnamed source in Russia’s presidential administration.
Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said that border guards at Russia’s only operational crossing point with Georgia had since Sunday stopped some people from exiting, citing the law on mobilisation. The local interior ministry on Sunday said there was a queue of 2,300 cars at the Verkhny Lars crossing.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports of men being turned back at the border.
(Reporting by Reuters)