Passengers on an Air Serbia flight from Moscow to Belgrade fly through the airport in Belgrade, Serbia, on Wednesday.

Darka Vainovich/AP


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Darka Vainovich/AP

Passengers on an Air Serbia flight from Moscow to Belgrade fly through the airport in Belgrade, Serbia, on Wednesday.

Darka Vainovich/AP

BELGRADE, Serbia — Scores of Russians rushed to book one-way tickets out of the country while they still could Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of military reservists for the war in Ukraine.

Flights quickly filled up and ticket prices for remaining connections soared, apparently due to fears that Russia’s borders could soon close or a wider draft that could send many Russian men of fighting age to the front lines.

Tickets for Moscow-Belgrade flights operated by Air Serbia, the only European carrier other than Turkish Airlines to maintain flights to Russia despite the European Union’s flight embargo, are sold out for the next few days. The price of flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai rose within minutes before jumping again to 9,200 euros ($9,119) for a one-way economy class fare.

Putin’s decree provides that the number of conscripts for military service will be determined by the Ministry of Defense. Minister of Defense Siarhei Shaigu said in a TV interview that initially 300,000 reservists with relevant combat and service experience will be mobilized.

Ever since Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine almost seven months ago, there has been a noticeable outflow of citizens from Russia. During the morning address to the nation, in which the president announced the partial mobilization of reservists, he also issued a veiled nuclear threat to Russia’s enemies in the West.

Soon, social media was flooded with reports of panic among Russians. Anti-war groups said the limited airfares from Russia had reached huge prices due to high demand and quickly became unavailable.

Some reports claimed that people had already been turned back from Russia’s land border with Georgia and that the website of the state-run Russian railway company had crashed because too many people were checking their exit routes.

Russian-language social networks also came alive with advice on how to avoid mobilization or leave the country.

In an apparent attempt to calm the panic, the head of the defense committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, Andrei Kartopolov, said that the authorities will not introduce additional restrictions on the departure of reservists from Russia, according to Russian media.

The Serbian group “Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Serbs Together Against War” tweeted that there were no available flights from Russia to Belgrade until mid-October. Flights to Turkey, Georgia or Armenia are also sold out, reports the Belgrade group.

“All the Russians who wanted to go to war have already gone,” the group said. “No one else wants to go there!”

Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, became a popular destination for Russians during the war. About 50,000 Russians fled to Serbia after Russia invaded Ukraine, and many have set up businesses, especially in the IT sector.

Russians do not need visas to enter Serbia, which is the only European country that has not joined Western sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine.

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