White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced last week that the United States would welcome fleeing Russians in search of asylum trying to avoid Putin’s military draft. Putin mobilized part of the reserve military last week and tens of thousands of citizens are fleeing across the border in especially large numbers to Mongolia, Georgia and Kazakhstan and other eastern European countries in fear of a more widespread conscription. Jean-Pierre indicated that the recent increased number of Russians fleeing the country shows a broad disapproval of Putin’s war in the Ukraine. She said that asylum seekers, from any country, are always welcomed and that applications will be adjudicated on a case by case basis.
During the same period, Russia announced the planned annexation of four Ukranian provinces including Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Russian officials claim the annexation was voted on and was “in line” with international requirements and that voting was voluntary resulting in the citizens of those provinces voting for the annexation, while people who have exited Russia recently are stating that citizens are being ordered, at gun-point, to fill out ballots. Russian officials have stated that any attack on the annexed territory will be considered an attack against Russian and that nuclear weapons are not off the table.