- Vladimir Putin announced that citizens would be mobilized to fight in the war on Ukraine.
- Viral videos show men saying goodbye to their families and others fighting with officers.
- Some Russians have fled the country while others protested against the mobilization order.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced 300,000 reservists would be ordered to fight in the country’s war on Ukraine, a wave of videos began to circulate on social media showing scenes of conscription. The videos show families crying, children calling out tearfully for their conscripted fathers, groups of men shuffling onto buses, and citizens arguing with authorities.
One of the most-shared videos, posted by Pjotr Sauer, a journalist for The Guardian who credited the Siberian news outlet Tayga for the footage, shows a cluster of men in heavy jackets carrying bags into a bus. The men can be seen hugging others who appear to be family members, including a child who is pressed up to the window of the bus to say goodbye.
—Pjotr Sauer (@PjotrSauer) September 22, 2022
The clip was taken on Thursday morning in Yakutsk, a Russian city in east Siberia, the post says. One activist from Yakutsk told The New York Times that authorities were lifting draftees out of villages by plane.
In another video, shared by The Telegraph, a Russian man described how he was given a draft notice despite being a student, and that an officer said he had to depart so soon that his mother may not have been able to get out of work in time to see him off.
A video with almost two million views appears to show local citizens in the Dagestan region arguing with a recruitment officer, who urged the people that they have to fight for the future, according to a Belarusian journalist who shared the clip on Twitter. In response, a man reportedly said “We don’t even have a present, what future are you talking about.”
—Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) September 22, 2022
Insider also previously reported on a viral video that showed a child wailing and crying, “Daddy, goodbye, please come back!” as a crowd of men could be seen loading onto a bus. The video was originally shared by The BBC’s Will Vernon, who said the video’s legitimacy was verified.
—Patrick Reevell (@Reevellp) September 23, 2022
The videos started spilling out and spreading on social media after Putin’s announcement of the conscription on Wednesday, which resulted in widespread tension as many sought to leave the country while mass protests broke out in specific towns and regions.
Despite Putin calling it a “partial mobilization” of citizens, the president of a local activist group told The Guardian that it was a “100% mobilization,” with some people outside of the expected combat-experienced range of draftees receiving notices. Russia has reportedly drafted students with no military history, and a 62-year-old man with a brain condition and second-degree diabetes.
The mobilization has also led to Russians attempting to flee the country to avoid being drafted into the war, the BBC reported on Friday, with long lines at border crossings and officials in neighboring countries addressing the potential for Russian citizens seeking refuge. The Kremlin denied that citizens were attempting to flee.
Russia’s military has faced losses over the past month as a significant counter-offensive from Ukrainian forces retook large portions of occupied territory from Russian forces in the northeast of the country.