A timelapse video shows planes leaving Russia in a mass exodus triggered by the Kremlin announcing that hundreds of thousands of people could be called up to fight in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Flight tracker Flightradar24 showed scores of planes leaving airports in Moscow and St Petersburg earlier this week.
The map video shows the routes the planes took out of Russia on Tuesday and Wednesday (20 and 21 September).
UK defence minister James Heappey said Vladimir Putin had ordered a partial mobilisation that could affect up to 300,000 reservists because the Russian president is “rattled” by troops’ ongoing struggles in Ukraine.
Mr Heappey told the House of Commons: “Putin’s remarks sparked mass panic in Russia yesterday with one-way flights out of Moscow immediately selling out.
“Putin is rattled and his tactics transparent. He is implicitly acknowledging his heavy losses and his armed forces’ ability to achieve any of their objectives.”
One-way tickets out of Russia had sold out or soared in price following the rush of fighting-age men desperate to leave for countries with visa-free access.
While many countries around the world – including the UK and those in the EU – have banned Russian citizens as part of sanctions over the war in Ukraine, a number of nations remain allies of Russia.
Google Flights shows ticket prices for travel this week to countries that Russian citizens can fly to without a visa, including Turkey – which maintains fair relations with Russia.
But when The Independent checked to see if flights were available, most tickets appeared to have sold out.
Where flights are available, the prices are now largely prohibitive for average citizens.
A flight to Cuba, a close ally of Russia, is not available until October – and a one-way economy flight to Havana for the next available date would cost almost £5,000.
A seat on a flight to Turkey is not available until 30 September. It was listed on Google Flights for the relatively reasonable price of £700 but was unavailable to book at the time of writing.
The Russian booking website Google leads to says: “Unfortunately, there are no tickets for this route for the dates you specified.”
The same message came up when trying to book a flight to Russia-friendly Armenia for next week, currently listed for about £500.
Russia’s ally China is largely closed to international arrivals because of its Covid restrictions. But, if it was open, one-way economy tickets range from £4,000 to Beijing and almost £9,000 to Shanghai – and the earliest date for travel would be next week, according to Google.
In response to reports of fully booked flights, the Kremlin labelled them “false information”.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov was reported in the Washington Post as saying: “The information about a certain feverish situation in airports is very much exaggerated.”