Shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he will deploy citizens to fight Ukraine on Wednesday, “how to break an arm at home” and “how to leave Russia” became the top trending Google searches in Russia.
The peak for searches was around 6 pm Moscow time, according to Telegram channel Mozhem Obyasnit, which first flagged the increase.
Putin was supposed to make his address Tuesday night, but moved it to Wednesday morning. He then announced a partial military mobilization of 300,000 citizens that would be drafted to fight in Ukraine.
Russians Given Just 4 Hours to Say Goodbye to Their Families
The Russians also bought one-way plane tickets out of the country after the announcement, reported New York Post. In his address, President Putin and military officials said citizens would immediately be conscripted to fight in the unprovoked invasion after the warring country had lost significant ground in Ukraine amid recent counterattacks, said the report.
The Russians were given just four hours to pack their bags and say goodbyes to their families, said a report by Metro UK. Tens of thousands of others have sought to flee the country, with five-hour long queues at the borders to Finland, Georgia, and Mongolia. Those who were lucky got the flight, but others were blocked from departing even if they tickets or visa.
Prices for air tickets out of Moscow soared above $5,000 for one-way tickets to the nearest foreign locations, with most air tickets sold out completely in coming days. FlightRadar24 shared a graphic on Twitter showing flights out of Russia after Putin’s announcement.
Social media groups popped up with advice on how to get out of Russia while one news site in Russian gave a list of “where to run away right now from Russia.” On Google, many people searched for “how to break an arm at home” after reports emerged that airlines are denying tickets to people between the ages of 18 and 65.
Google Trends data showed a dramatic rise in the search term – from 0 to 38 on a scale of 100 – within 24 hours of Mr Putin’s announcement, according to Newsweek.
Ukraine launched its own mobilisation programme two days before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion and soon afterwards announced martial law, which banned men aged 18-60 from leaving the country. It is currently on its fourth wave of mobilisation. The exact number of mobilised reservists in Ukraine is classified but official pronouncements suggest it is at least 400,000.