Turkey braces for new influx of Russians after Putin mobilization announcement

Prices for flights to Istanbul from Moscow and other major Russian cities jumped more than 100% today due to high demand following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization in the country.

The cost of a one-way ticket from Moscow to Istanbul ranges from $1,500 to $4,000, up more than 100% from the previous day, according to Google Flights search data.

All flights of Turkish airliners, including the country’s flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, and low-cost carrier Pegasus, are booked until Sunday.

Skyrocketing prices and increased flight times, which have reached some 50 hours for a flight of about five hours, have not deterred travelers from their plans, although prices continue to rise.

The cost of flights to other countries where Russians can travel visa-free, such as Serbia, Albania and Georgia, also jumped after Putin’s announcement.

In a pre-recorded national address earlier in the day, Putin said his country would mobilize reservists who have combat and service experience.

The number of Russians fleeing to Turkey increased dramatically after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, with thousands – especially young and white-collar Russians – pouring into the country’s major cities, including Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya, mainly to travel to Europe. Russian rapper Oxxxymironan outspoken war critic who canceled all of his planned concerts in his country to protest the invasion, launched his international concert series in Istanbul in March to help Ukrainian refugees.

Russian nationals topped the list of foreign buyers in Turkey for the first time in May with over 1,000 sales. Under Ankara’s controversial home citizenship scheme, foreigners who pay $400,000 or more for real estate become eligible to obtain Turkish passports.

The influx has prompted Turkish banks to start using Russia’s national payment system, known as Mir, for Russians who cannot use their credit cards due to sanctions. However, two Turkish banks have announced that they stopped using the system following the announcement by the US Treasury of the extension of sanctions for financial institutions using Mir.

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