Russian Exodus: It is thought that millions of Russians have fled in recent months.
Vladimir Putin’s autocracy has taken Russia down a dark path since February 2022.
It is unclear where the path leads, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has not gone according to the Kremlin’s plan. Nor has the conflict developed as Western commentators had expected.
We are looking at a conflict to which nobody can see an end.
All of this has shaken everyday life in the world’s largest country, and given Putin’s critics more to complain about.
Though, according to the Kremlin, Putin has been enjoying high approval rates, the autocrat’s popularity has in fact taken a hit in recent months.
Global condemnation of Russia’s attacks began from the earliest days of the invasion.
Almost all international businesses have now left Russia, financial links with Moscow have been severed, and Russia’s reputation has been shattered.
A study published by the Yale School of Management in May “shows money lost from the companies leaving Russia amounts to 45% of GDP,” according to Investment Monitor.
As if all this was not enough to give ordinary Russians a hard time, the Kremlin came up with the idea of a nationwide military draft in September to reinforce its exhausted troops.
Moscow claims that “over 200,000 people have already been drafted into Russia’s armed forces since President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization,” according to Reuters.
But there is another side to the story.
The so-called “mobilization decree” and the continuation of a pointless war has led to an exodus of Russians, especially young men, who do not wish to risk their lives for the fantasies of an autocrat.
This Russian exodus had in fact begun much earlier than “partial mobilization” in September. Over 300,000 Russians had left the country by mid-March.
This grew to half a million by the end of August.
Following the mobilization order in September, the exodus assumed new proportions, with 100,000 fleeing to Kazakhstan alone in the last week of September.
The influx of young Russians was also seen in Georgia, Finland, Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey.
The number of one-way tickets out of Russia bought from various airlines and the length of car queues at land borders seen in September and October were unprecedented.
Some have estimated that another 500,000 Russians have left their home country.
This raises the total number of citizens and residents leaving Russia since the invasion of Ukraine to 1,000,000.
A quick socioeconomic assessment of the recent Russian immigrants indicates that they are mostly young middle-class professionals and university graduates.
This could be the beginning of the worst brain-drain in the country’s history.
At the same time, well-to-do Russians are increasingly taking their wealth out of the country’s shaky economic system. And we are not necessarily talking about oligarchs or billionaires.
Many ordinary upper-middle class Russians have decided to invest their money elsewhere, including by buying houses overseas.
“Sales of Turkish homes to foreigners jumped more than 80% in June from a year ago,” reported Bloomberg in July.
The demand was mainly driven by Russians who were seeking to secure residency rights in Turkey through buying real-estate.
The international boycott of Moscow has already exacted a huge cost on the country.
But the exodus of the Russian middle class, professionals, and young talent could be an even heavier blow to the economy in the long run.