Russian President Vladimir Putin may well be successful in mobilising the 300,000 reservists he claims he needs for his war on Ukraine, but since his announcement on Sep. 21, 360,000 men have fled to Georgia and Kazakhstan to avoid this outcome, and others have fled to other countries, Politico reports.
According to the media outlet, the more the Kremlin mobilises, the more men will attempt to flee the country, a factor which has major repercussions for all types of Russian businesses and, as a result, the economy.
Given the number of men gone or set to leave, industries vital to society — from factories to internet providers — are at danger of significant upheaval. And Russia has no strategy to cope with this.
It appears that many Russians already held the belief that mobilisation was only just around the corner. This is evident from the fact that more than 260,000 Russians entered Georgia in the month of August, up from 45,000 in August 2021.
Furthermore, in the six days following Putin’s mobilisation announcement, around 100,000 Russians left for Kazakhstan, and Russian demand for flights to destinations like Turkey and the United Arab Emirates has soared.
Politico explains, that those men fleeing Russia are said to be able-bodied and of working age, and their departure represents a massive loss to the armed services, according to local reports.
It has also been reported that the mobilisation, coupled with the numbers fleeing may well create another issue, namely a shortage of skilled labour in all sectors.
It is likely that the country has no established framework for ensuring the continuity of society in times of conflict or war.
Analysts have said that as opposed to Russia, Sweden and Finland have long-standing strategies on preserving civilization in the event of conflict. For example, having engineers to man nuclear power plants.
“In Finland, every company lists which employees are so vital that they can’t be released to the armed forces,” former permanent secretary of Finland’s Ministry of Defence and retired Lieutenant General Arto Räty told Politico news.
“The mobilization is happening randomly, and because of that, it will hit the economy,” Räty said. “Maybe not on the first day, but the economy can’t just keep going without these men and the men who’ve fled.”
Every industry sector in Finland has a crisis preparation committee, while the National Emergency Supply Agency is in charge of securing the supply of essential items during emergencies.
It is evident that Russia lacks such a continuity-of-society strategy, as evidenced by the reactive manner in which men are currently being mobilised.
There are not enough women to fill the gaps left by mobilised and fleeing men and quickly replace them in their jobs.
Kari Liuhto, a professor of economics at the University of Turku who focuses on the Russian economy, said “we’re already seeing a huge brain drain,” adding “The best people are leaving Russia. Already this spring, tens of thousands of tech experts left the country. And the government doesn’t have a plan on how to replace these people.”
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