Ukraine's Defence Ministry has tweeted a suggestion for the Russian people, many of whom are leaving their country after President Vladimir Putin announced "partial mobilisation", which means calling on thousands of military reserves for active duty in the ongoing war, and raised the spectre of a nuclear attack.
"Russians are now actively Googling how to avoid mobilization and stay alive," read the tweet by Defense of Ukraine on Thursday, "They would have been better off Googling instructions for making Molotov cocktails when there was still time." Molotov cocktails — homemade 'petrol bombs' — were a motif of the common Ukrainians' resistance against Russian forces when the invasion began seven months ago.
russians are now actively Googling how to avoid mobilization and stay alive.— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 21, 2022
They would have been better off Googling instructions for making Molotov cocktails when there was still time.
The tweet referenced reports that Google searches for the phrase "How to leave Russia" spiked in the country ahead of President Putin's speech. One-way air tickets out of Russia, too, swiftly sold out as the President's address raised fears that martial law could be imposed and men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave. There were long traffic jams on Russia's border with Finland as those with visas sought to cross over.
The mobilisation — Russia's first such move since the Nazi onslaught in World War 2 — is the biggest escalation of the Ukraine war since the invasion began in February. It comes after Ukraine's recent pushback reclaimed several areas from the Russian forces and the militias it backs.
For now, it is being officially described as "partial", hence will draw in over 3 lakh reservists over months. Russia claims to have a reserve force of 2.5 crore people.
Flights departing Moscow and St. Petersburg today. The @AP is reporting international flights departing Russia have either sold out or skyrocketed in price after Putin announced a mobilization of reservists.— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) September 21, 2022
Search SVO, VKO, DME for Moscow airports and LED for St. Petersburg. pic.twitter.com/LV2PrkwPD9
President Putin was supposed to make his address Tuesday night, but moved it to Wednesday morning, and in between the country's legislators passed laws for "martial law" and "mobilisation" — a likely prompt for the search spike on Google, the second most-visited search engine in Russia behind Yandex.
Ukraine's Defence Ministry took a swipe at this, too, in a tweet: "The Russians were given 12 hours of rest, so Google could answer all the questions, including the question of what is the average life expectancy of a Russian soldier in Ukraine."
Western military analysts have been saying that Russia is short of manpower on the Ukraine battlefield due to heavy losses. Even Russian nationalists seem to give this credence, as they have for months been calling for some kind of mobilisation to boost what they see as a stuttering campaign.
Amid all this, Defense of Ukraine has been tweeting regularly. "We are liberating not only Ukrainian territory. We are also returning our people home," it wrote with a video on Thursday.
We are liberating not only Ukrainian territory. We are also returning our people home. Heroes whose courage inspired the whole world are free. Even on a day like this we remember those who are still held in captivity by the occupiers. We wait. We believe. They too will be freed. pic.twitter.com/MSUGOxMcmw— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 21, 2022
In another tweet, it quoted the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukraine Army, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, as saying, "We will destroy everyone who comes to our land with weapons, whether voluntarily or due to mobilization."
President Putin said in his address, "If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people — this is not a bluff."