Russian conscription prompts exodus by some men

STORY: Border traffic intensified overnight Thursday as some Russian men rushed for the exits after President Vladimir Putin's call for partial mobilization - drafting 300,000 reservists.

At Russia's border with Georgia, video obtained by Reuters showed traffic Wednesday night.

For some like Ivan, the crossing took up to 12 hours.

"I think the Russian border guards were letting people through very slowly. For example, yesterday before midnight you could cross the border much more quickly. After midnight, either lots of cars arrived (at the border) or they (border guards) started to work more slowly."

It was a similar scene on the border with Finland.

One man named Nikita said he was afraid to be called up for war.

Asked why by a reporter, he said because the mobilization is a big mistake for Russia, Europe and for Ukrainian people.

Putin's Wednesday announcement raised fears that some men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave the country.

Prices soared above $5,000 for one-way plane tickets to the nearest foreign locations, with most sold out completely for coming days.

Alex was one of the arrivals at Istanbul Airport.

"I didn't believe that the next step would be mobilization and I feel that not many Russian people want to fight and want to be mobilized and want to go to the army.."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned Russian citizens that the war was now arriving at their doorsteps.

"Russia's decision on mobilization is a frank admission that their professional army, which has been prepared for decades to take someone else's [land], did not manage to stand it and collapsed. And now, due to mobilization, for most Russian citizens, Russia's war against Ukraine is not something on TV or the Internet but something that has entered every Russian home."

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that news of men leaving the country was simply an exaggeration.

“The information about the hype at airports and so on is very much exaggerated. It was exaggerated a lot. There is a lot of fake information about this. We need to be very careful about this so as not to become a victim of false information on this matter”.

He also made it clear that Russia was still calling the conflict a "special military operation" instead of a war.