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Photos show 10-mile line at Russian border as many flee mobilization

A satellite image shows a traffic jam near Russia's border with Georgia on Sunday. (Maxar Technologies/AP)
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A traffic jam at Russia’s border with Georgia has stretched for nearly 10 miles after President Vladimir Putin’s partial military mobilization order, satellite images show.

The line of cars and trucks trying to leave formed at a crossing point on the Russian side of the border, according to U.S.-based firm Maxar Technologies, which released the photos on Monday. “The traffic jam likely continued further to the north of the imaged area,” the U.S.-based firm said. Aerial photos from the company show vehicles snaking into another long line near Russia’s border with Mongolia.

What does Putin’s partial military mobilization mean for Russia and Ukraine?

Cars have also lined up at Russia’s borders with Finland and Kazakhstan since last week, when Putin announced a call-up of hundreds of thousands of reservists to fight in the Kremlin’s faltering war in Ukraine. It marks Russia’s first military mobilization since World War II.

Soon after the speech, tickets sold out to the few cities that still have direct flights from Russia, and Google searches rose for queries like “how to leave Russia.”

As mobilization begins in Russia, sold-out flights, protests and arrests

Confusion over who could be summoned has also pushed thousands to flee, along with fears that Russia’s borders could shut to men of military age.

They don’t have many options if they don’t want to deploy to Ukraine. Russian flights in E.U. airspace are banned, and Baltic nations closed their land borders. In recent days, piles of abandoned bicycles near border posts appeared in social media footage.

Russian news agency TASS said more than 5,000 cars were waiting for hours at the border with Georgia on Tuesday.

In Kazakhstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said Tuesday his country would talk with Moscow about the influx and sought to “maintain agreement with neighboring countries.” He called it a “difficult situation” but said there was no reason to panic after tens of thousands of crossings by Russian citizens were reported in recent days.

Finnish authorities said they saw a nearly 80 percent increase in entries from Russia after the mobilization, but the Finnish Border Guard also said Tuesday that “the majority of arrivals move on to other countries.”

Anger flares as Russia mobilization hits minority regions and protesters

The Kremlin has described reports of an exodus as overblown, despite growing signs of a backlash to the mobilization.

Some Russian men headed swiftly to the borders on Sept. 22 after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization. (Video: Reuters)

Riot police have arrested hundreds of protesters, as rights groups worry the order will disproportionately round up men in remote or impoverished parts of the country. And at an enlistment station in the Irkutsk region, one man shot and wounded a military recruiter on Monday.

Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.