Russian men take long road out to escape mobilization

STORY: President Vladimir Putin's military call-up for the war in Ukraine has prompted tens of thousands of Russian men to try to flee the country, often by circuitous routes.

Kirill Ponomarev, from Voronezh close to Ukraine, has now reached Yerevan in Armenia.

The 24 year-old journalist was already planning to leave and had a ticket for 6 days' time.

The day after Putin's speech, he decided it was too risky to wait.

It took him a week on a journey by car, train and plane spanning more than 6,000 miles.

"The border guards were quite tongue-in-cheek: at the border a border guard got on the train and said: "Wow, I've never seen so many men on this train, where are you all going?" Everyone said they were going to see their relatives, their grandmother, their girlfriend."

Yerevan and Tashkent in Uzbekistan, like other capitals of former Soviet states that let in Russians without visas, have become havens.

Especially so for members of the Russian urban middle classes who were able to move quickly and had resources to escape.

Russian citizen Sergei Goncharov fled to Bishkek in Kyrgysztan, and faced questions at passport control.

"The most common ones (questions at passport control) were: 'Why are you going there?' 'What are you doing to do there?' 'How long are you going to stay there?' 'Have you got a return ticket and when are you coming back?'"

"Some of those (men in the queue) were taken to a special room full of policemen, for some reason, I don't know why. And subsequently they didn't get on the flight. So apparently the officers did not let them out of the country."

"The worst part is: I basically had to leave my family, friends, loved ones - basically everyone - in Russia."

Russia said over 200,000 people have already been drafted into the country's armed forces since President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization two weeks ago.

Reports have surfaced of men with no military experience or past draft age receiving call-up papers, adding to outrage that has reignited dormant - and banned - anti-war demonstrations.