Thousands of Russians flee to Thailand as one vows ‘never’ to fight against Ukraine

Thousands of Russians have fled to Thailand to avoid the draft in Russia. Top tourist spots, including Phuket, have been flooded with people avoiding the call-up. Some have taken over neighbourhoods and say they have no intention to return home.

Figures suggest close to a quarter of a million, 233,000, Russians have arrived on the Isle of Phuket since November.

As a result of the influx, there has been a home price boom as wealthy middle-class arrivals buy or rent to stay indefinitely on residential visas.

Speaking to the Sun, Nikolai, 25, said he had travelled between Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos to avoid being drafted.

He said: “This is not my war. I have never voted for Vladimir Putin. I can’t stop the war by being in Russia, but I will do all I can and all my income allows me to never join his troops, and never fight against Ukraine.”

READ MORE: Putin on knife edge as arrest warrant could ‘hasten his removal’

Another Russian, who did not wish to be identified, said the “wave” of young men was “impossible to miss”.

Meanwhile, British tourists in the area have also noticed. Michael Shackleton, 39, said: “In Pattaya you can’t move for Russian men of fighting age.”

Reports suggest that such is the influx, that local restaurants are now printing their menus in Russian as well as English.

The announcement of this influx comes as the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The court alleges he is responsible for war crimes and focuses on the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia. It says these crimes were committed in Ukraine from February 24 2022.

In a statement, Prosecutor Kari A. A. Khan KC said: “On the basis of evidence collected and analysed by my Office pursuant to its independent investigations, the Pre-Trial Chamber has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, contrary to article 8(2)(a)(vii) and Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute.”

He added: “As I stated when in Bucha last May, Ukraine is a crime scene that encompasses a complex and broad range of alleged international crimes. We will not hesitate to submit further applications for warrants of arrest when the evidence requires us to do so.”

The investigation into the war crimes continues.