Putin Ally Promises Refuge to Russians Fleeing ‘Hopeless Situation’

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is welcoming Russians fleeing conscription.

Russians have fled their homeland in droves following Putin’s September 21 approval for partial mobilization, exiting to countries such as Kazakhstan and Georgia. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported Tuesday that approximately 98,000 Russians have already fled to Kazakhstan in less than a week.

“Most of them [Russians] are forced to leave because of the hopeless situation,” Tokayev said, according to AFP. “We must take care of them.”

The president said the situation represents “a political and humanitarian issue,” reported the Kyiv Post. The Kazakhstan Interior Ministry says a mobile mobilization office at a border checkpoint will go live in the “near future.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the Russian defense ministry has not appealed for the forced return of Russian citizens from Kazakhstan, Georgia and other countries of refuge, RIA Novosti reported.

There are also no plans for Putin and Tokayev to converse regarding the potential return of Russian citizens that have already left, Peskov added.

Russian reservists forced to stay and fight have been denied food and water for complaining, in addition to facing a lack of proper equipment. They have been called woefully unprepared.

Some mobilized Russians have called a Ukrainian security hotline inquiring how to surrender, says Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian defense ministry’s intelligence directorate.

Tokayev Russia Putin Refugees Mobilization
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City. Tokayev said on Tuesday that Russians fleeing conscription are welcome in his country.
YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

Tokayev said that welcoming detractors is part of the unity, prudence and tolerance that compose the “strength” of his people. He called it a “key principle” to maintain territorial integrity while simultaneously acknowledging the reality that a war is taking place in the “immediate vicinity,” according to the Kyiv Post.

Kazakh foreign ministry spokesperson Aibek Smadiyarov said Monday that Tokayev “clearly stated the importance of steadfast compliance with the principle of international law” regarding referendums taking place in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, according to Kazakhstan’s Astana Times.

Otherwise, Tokayev has attempted to remain as neutral as possible while the Ukraine-Russia conflict escalates.

“In the international arena, I have always been open and honest about this,” Tokayev said Tuesday. “It is no surprise that I restated this in my recent speech from the highest rostrum of the U.N. A massive war is going on just next to us. With this in mind, we must first consider our country’s security.”

Newsweek reached out to Tokayev’s office and the Russian defense ministry for comment.

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