Russians flee, citing disapproval of war

Russia At War

(NewsNation) —Thousands of Russians continue to flee the country following the latest rounds of economic sanctions by the U.S. and other nations.

Some of those fleeing are wealthy, packing suitcases full of cash and moving to nearby countries including Turkey.

After seeing the devastation in Ukraine, Veronika Lemishenko and her boyfriend Vladimir Piskunov fled Russia with their dog, Penelope. Seeing images of what the Kremlin called a “special military operation” convinced the couple they could no longer stay.

“I just didn’t have words to describe my feelings,” Piskunov said. “It’s ruthless.”

Veronika is from Ukraine but for Piskunov, leaving Russia meant leaving the only home he’s ever known.

“There’s no way to stay in Russia. For me, at least,” he said.

About 14,000 Russians fled to Turkey in the first few weeks of the conflict because of the deteriorating political and economic conditions. Nearly 50,000 people from Ukraine have also fled to Turkey.

Turkey is a U.S. ally and NATO member that has chosen not to impose sanctions on Russia. It’s one of the dwindling numbers of countries that Russians can fly to and stay without a visa.

Authorities in other countries are seizing Russian assets and some wealthy Russians are grabbing their cash and yachts, hoping to remain a step ahead of western sanctions.

In an economic war against the elite, Lemishenko and Piskunov have become collateral damage.

“My bank account, which is Mastercard; it doesn’t work right now so I couldn’t get money,” Piskunov said.

The U.S. Senate passed legislation Thursday to end normal trade relations with Russia, paving the way for higher tariffs on some imports, and to codify Biden’s executive action banning imports of Russian oil. The European Union is also expected to take additional punitive measures, including an embargo on Russian coal.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the sanctions would not be effective unless they included a ban on Russian oil, on which Europe relies heavily. He said the West’s sanctions on Russia so far “can’t be called commensurate to the evil the world saw in Bucha,” where numerous dead civilians were found after Russian troops evacuated the area.

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