White House says ‘we welcome’ Russians seeking asylum in US amid Putin conscription

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The United States would “welcome” all Russian citizens seeking asylum in that country after fleeing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military enlistment, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.

Jean-Pierre made the comments during a White House press briefing, even as tens of thousands of Russian citizens stormed into neighboring Eastern European countries. A journalist pressed Jean-Pierre about men of military age fleeing borders or even injuring themselves to avoid conscription.

“I know the White House has drawn a distinction between the Russian government and the Russian people. Does the president have a message for some of these men who are desperately trying to flee the country? asked a reporter.

“We see demonstrations in the streets of Russia, we see people signing petitions, and I think the message they send us very clearly is that this war started by Putin…is unpopular,” Jean said. -Rock. “There are people over there in Russia who don’t want to fight Putin’s war or die for it.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, pledged to strengthen Russia’s military cooperation with its allies during the International Military-Technical Forum in Patriot Park near Moscow, Russia, August 15, 2022.
(Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Ukrainian soldiers fire a US Javelin missile during military exercises in the Donetsk region on January 12, 2022.
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Ukrainian soldiers fire a US Javelin missile during military exercises in the Donetsk region on January 12, 2022.
(Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

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“We believe that regardless of their nationality, they can seek asylum in the United States and have their claim judged on a case-by-case basis,” she added. “We welcome anyone seeking asylum, and they should.”

Putin ordered a partial mobilization of the Russian army last week, recruiting 300,000 reserve troops. The move sparked widespread fear of mass conscription amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mongolia, Georgia and Kazakhstan have borne the brunt of the wave of Russian men of military age leaving the country. Georgian officials said daily border crossings nearly doubled in less than a week.

Ukrainian soldiers sit on infantry fighting vehicles as they drive near Izyum in eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022.

Ukrainian soldiers sit on infantry fighting vehicles as they drive near Izyum in eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022.
(Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)

“About four or five days ago, there were five to six thousand visitors [from Russia] daily, and now it has increased to about ten thousand,” Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told reporters on Tuesday.

Others fleeing to Mongolia had to queue for more than a dozen hours to be processed. One man, Aleksey, told Reuters he was leaving behind his wife and children while the project was underway.

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“We are not afraid, but why do we have to fight in Ukraine, why?” he told Reuters. “If other countries attacked Russia, we would fight for our country. But why are we going to Ukraine? For what?”

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