Russia Curtails Air Travel for Military Aged Males

As one does when one is confident of one's policy choices.

Via AirLive: BREAKING Russian airlines ordered to stop selling tickets to Russian men aged 18 to 65.

Russian airlines have stopped selling tickets to Russian men aged 18 to 65 unless they can provide evidence of approval to travel from the Ministry of Defense.

All flights from Russia to available foreign destinations were sold out Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin declared a “partial” mobilization of the country’s 25 million reservists.

Flights from Moscow to the capitals of Georgia, Turkey and Armenia — which do not require visas for Russians — for Sept. 21 were unavailable within minutes of Putin’s announcement, according to Russia’s top travel planning website

By noon Moscow time, direct flights from Moscow to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan had also stopped showing up on the website.

This does not sound like Putin is especially confident in national support for his war of choice.

See, also, this thread:
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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Lounsbury says:


    As one does when one is confident of one’s policy choices.

    Well one might be confident of the choice but also realistic on the potential side-effects of the choice.

    This would suggest he has a reasonably accurate guess on the “put self on the line” level of support for his war (versus the angry ranter in the pub or online type support). Although the long reluctance to do anything of this sort rather says the same. His sense of internal politics seems genuinely well-founded (contra his sense of the international or any sense of neighbourly relations).

  2. Franklin says:

    Should we be worried about this? Putin is getting ever closer to going all in on this mistake.

  3. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile in Ukraine:
    “Ukraine Curtails Air Travel for Russian Military Aged Males”

    Also, one thing is a certainty.
    Whoever controls “evidence of approval to travel from the Ministry of Defense” is about to become a very, very well remunerated Russian.

  4. Andy says:

    This does not sound like Putin is especially confident in national support for his war of choice.

    That isn’t unique to Putin, that’s what wars do. Put simply, forced military service is very rarely popular.

    Ukraine did the same thing, instituting many policies to prevent military-age males from leaving a country as well as to try to prevent a general “brain drain.” It’s likely true, however, that the problem of unwillingness to serve is probably much greater in Russia – but Russia also has a much larger population.

    Anyway, Hertling’s comments are accurate and apt except for one point – Russia is mobilizing people who already have military experience and therefore will require – in theory – less training than someone off the street.

    The US equivalent would be mobilizing people who are in the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve).

    The main problem for Russia is that their most trained and experienced cadres were decimated since the beginning of the war, and it’s questionable they have enough of those troops to provide leadership in units, much less utilize them to train and organize new units. And Russian manpower decisions up to this point that sought to increase short-term manning, came with many long-term negative effects.

    One thing not mentioned is that stop-loss policies are likely being enacted now, so the current contract volunteers will not be going home anytime soon.

    As usual, I think Michael Koffman has the best take, and he has been consistently the best and most accurate commentator on this war to this point. This is an excellent thread:

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Surely you’re not implying that a person with the solemn duty to approve of travel for the MoD would succumb to besmirching his oath for mere filthy lucre, are you?

  6. Slugger says:

    I think Russia has lost the war. NATO is larger and more cohesive. Buyers of Russian output are sourcing alternatives. They have accelerated the growth of non petroleum based energies. China and India clearly consider them junior partners in any anti-US coalition.
    Now, this doesn’t mean that Putin has lost. Battlefield success if achieved will let him stand on the podium outside the Kremlin surrounded by military officers wearing lots of shiny new medals while crowds cheer, crowds who have gained nothing from this war and are less wealthy and have fewer intact sons than before this war. When Stalin died Red Square was filled with tearful mourners. This will be the only possible victory. Yeah, Putin; sucks to be you Russia.

  7. Scott says:

    I have been reading David McCollough’s Truman and had just got through the end of WWII and the beginning, in 1946, the post war era where it finally dawned on everybody that the Soviet Union was not going to be a willing partner in the creation of the post war liberal world.

    Two weeks before Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech, George Kennan sent his “Long Telegram” (you can read it here. And you should.) outlining his historical and future view of the Soviet Union. Things in Russia may have changed a bit in the last 80 years but maybe not so much. Here are some excerpts:

    At bottom of Kremlin’s neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity. Originally, this was insecurity of a peaceful agricultural people trying to live on vast exposed plain in neighborhood of fierce nomadic peoples. To this was added, as Russia came into contact with economically advanced West, fear of more competent, more powerful, more highly organized societies in that area. But this latter type of insecurity was one which afflicted rather Russian rulers than Russian people; for Russian rulers have invariably sensed that their rule was relatively archaic in form fragile and artificial in its psychological foundation, unable to stand comparison or contact with political systems of Western countries. For this reason they have always feared foreign penetration, feared direct contact between Western world and their own, feared what would happen if Russians learned truth about world without or if foreigners learned truth about world within. And they have learned to seek security only in patient but deadly struggle for total destruction of rival power, never in compacts and compromises with it.

    The Soviet regime is a police regime par excellence, reared in the dim half world of Tsarist police intrigue, accustomed to think primarily in terms of police power.

    [Marxism] is fig leaf of their moral and intellectual respectability. Without it they would stand before history, at best, as only the last of that long succession of cruel and wasteful Russian rulers who have relentlessly forced country on to ever new heights of military power in order to guarantee external security of their internally weak regimes.

    It may not be exactly analogous to Russia today but like Stalin, Putin is just an authoritarian utilizing different political structures to exercise power. And we should continue to contain, if not diminish that power.

  8. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    What can I say.
    Aging has caused my mind to erode its lazy way down to run in somewhat cynical channels.

  9. dazedandconfused says:


    Not particularly, but in general yes. Not particularly because of the reasons Andy cited well. In general because it means Putin is not currently interested in quitting.

    Unless forced to quit by military abject military defeat in the field Putin appears to be going for something which resembles our old “peace with honor” in Viet Nam: An escalation designed to bring the other side to the table in a serious way. This is every much the double edged sword for him now as it was for Nixon then, as it risks more than losing domestic support, it risks a strident and active anti-war domestic opposition.

    About the only people who can view this as a good thing are people who make artillery shells, rockets and body bags.

  10. JohnSF says:

    And speaking of cynical, currently trending on Russian google:
    “How to break an arm”
    (Not entirely certain this is genuine, but it is pretty truthy.)

  11. Kathy says:

    Protests have broken out in Russia.

    One thing I can say for sure, is Mad Vlad hates it when people protest against him. Ten to one he’ll claim they are staged by Joe Biden and Anthony Blinken.

  12. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: And Hillary Clinton.

    (I remain disappointed that Anthony Blinkin does not use just his first initial to get an “Abe Lincoln” pun.)

  13. Liberal Capitalist says:

    One well targeted cruise missile could resolve this.

    Have we not provided any to the Ukrainians and trained them to use it (and provided suggested routes to smuggle it into Russia)?

    Maybe we need a go-fund-me-cruise-missile

  14. JohnSF says:

    Bring the other side to the table?
    Not a chance.

    Eveveyone knows Putin by now.
    The moment you give the hint of sniffing at a possible compromise, he’ll try and pocket it and ask for more:
    “Russian peace with honour demands you surrender Lvov.”
    Yeah. No.
    Sod off, Vova.

    Left it too late.
    Russia needs tens of thousand, pref. 100,000’s fully trained and equppied soldiers on the line lunchtime yesterday (or better, before the Great Kharhiv bug-out)

    He’ll get them in what, six months, if he’s lucky.
    And I have doubts about equipment then.
    And what munitions stocks are going to be left.
    And will the command system actually be any more capable of using them effectively then than it was on Day1?

    Meanwhile, Ukrainians are getting better and better.
    They can sustain, and improve a million-man army.
    They will probably capable of killing Russians as fast as they turn up; and that’s if the Russian are lucky.
    And the Ukrainians know this.
    And western armament flows continue.
    And EU gas storage is now at 86.2% of capacity.

    Continuing consequences of Russian operational gluttony.
    Its been pretty obvious since the failure of the “decapitation strike” attempt at the outset that Russia needed and need to pick ONE front and focus everything on supporting that.
    Kyiv, or Kherson or Kharkiv, or Donbas or whatever.

    Instead, they do give up Kyiv, but only when forced to, and with massive losses.
    Rinse and repeat.

    Now instead of the coastline OR Donbas they tried for both.
    And have got themselves near unhinged in the NE, and the idiots also have a roughly corps scale force cut of the wrong side of the Dnipro s non-operational bridges
    That’s another disaster on the Kyiv and Kharkiv NE scales that’s coming to the boil.
    If they had any sense they’d have pulled out a month ago.
    If they have any remaining they’ll abandon their heavy kit and pull out now.

    But it looks like Putin just cannot abide to surrender a “win”, however illusory.

    If Russia doesn’t get smart and shorten its lines drastically before midwinter, odds on there’s going to be another full collapse, either in N. Luhansk or along the coastal salient.
    And this one will likely be terminal

  15. Chris says:

    Under the current edict, the vast majority of these men can only suffer or leave Putin’s idea of Mother Russia by way of a Ukrainian death.

  16. dazedandconfused says:


    There are far too many historical examples of supposedly intractable conflicts resolved by negotiated deals, sometimes in the form of truces that somehow get extended forever for me to be so confident. Ya just never know about these things.

  17. JohnSF says:

    I wonder in fact if perhaps Putin isn’t quite as dim as just looking at the strategic and economic situation implies.

    He may be more concerned with shoring up his own internal power base by heading off the demands of the hardliners.
    And continuing to hope for a Christmas pony in the form a European economic/political meltdown (or freeze-up)
    Perhaps his FSB boys are feeding him “political analysis” bs again?

    Then if by Spring nothing is showing, he can turn round and say: nothing doing, now we try for compromise.
    In the meantime he protect himself; by throwing hardliner a bone, while avoiding them taking over real government power-base positions from his “loyalists”.

    As long as Vlad gets to live another day, who cares about the big picture?
    And maybe the horse will sing.

    I think he’s radically underestimating the chances of the horse turning up it’s hooves on the Black Sea shore before Springtime rolls around, but there you go.

  18. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile on the Russia-Georgia border, a remarkable number of Russian found singing that old song “Georgia On My Mind”

    Beaches at Batumi are so lovely this time of year.
    And what’s that, I’ve accidentally taken the scenic detour into Turkey?
    Well, oopsie me.

  19. Scott says:

    @JohnSF: I wonder if Putin has a dim hope that the Republicans will take over the House and the far right lunatics will cut off funding from the US. If so, he is hallucinating.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    Interesting quote. Change a few words and you could reprint it today.


    wrong side of the Dnipro s non-operational bridges

    I blame shoddy workmanship. Though I suppose the Ukrainian ordnance didn’t help.

    The Ukrainians should offer any Russian soldier who surrenders, a train ticket to Poland or Germany. No POW camp, surrender and it’s Warsaw, baby!

  21. JohnSF says:

    Ukrainians have very little interest in a “phony peace” leaving the Russians the option to turn the conflict up and down at their pleasure, and prep. for another onslaught at a time of there choosing.

    There are doubtless some in the NSC who will wave the de-escalation fan coyly.
    But it won’t play in Ukraine, and outside of some S(tupid)PD circles in Berlin (the real dogs-in-the-manger), you won’t get a plurality in Europe prepared to shiv Zelensky to get that stupid prize.

    Because unless you get conflict termination, you don’t get the east Ukraine economy back up.
    Which leaves EU on the hook not just for reconstruction, but indefinite life-support and refugee resettlement.
    Not on.

    And the quickest way to conflict termination is to break the Russian Army:
    Turn up the pain.

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: As much as I’d like to believe Putin to be hallucinating, I’m not sold on the resolve of the GQP to be loyal to principle, self-determination, or any other positive qualities that would make them think in terms other than “let’s give Biden the same treatment we gave the nKKKLAAANNNNGG.” I see another “turn him into a one-term President” event in our future. This one may go better.

  23. Richard Gardner says:

    I believe this is just an expansion in age for an already existing travel ban. A little after the war started Russia put out an international travel ban for 18-? (24?). An acquaintance’s 18 year old cousin (with USA residency) was visiting family in St Petersburg could not depart. He eventually got out via Israel.

  24. Andy says:


    There are far too many historical examples of supposedly intractable conflicts resolved by negotiated deals, sometimes in the form of truces that somehow get extended forever for me to be so confident. Ya just never know about these things.

    Yep, that is the historical norm. Expecting one side or the other to dominate and achieve a complete victory here is not very likely IMO.


    Contrast that with Kennan in 1997.


    Ukrainians have very little interest in a “phony peace” leaving the Russians the option to turn the conflict up and down at their pleasure, and prep. for another onslaught at a time of there choosing.

    Desires and reality often do not match up. No side in any war is interested in a “phony peace” at the outset. However, when the decisive victory hoped for is always in the distance, a Friedman unit away, then alternatives start to become acceptable. See, for example, most wars in history.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andy: No side in any war is interested in a “phony peace” at the outset.

    While acknowledging the realities of what you are saying, let us also acknowledge the realities of Crimea. Putin will never settle for what he has taken and Ukrainians know that now.

    Any “peace” between Russia and Ukraine will be a phony peace.

  26. Kathy says:

    According to Fiona Hill, most, if not all, of Mad Vlad’s obsession with Ukraine is about the latter’s refusal to join the Eurasian Economic Union.

    I must admit til I read Dr. Hill’s book, I’d no idea this organization even existed.

    It was Yanukovich’s turn to the Eurasian Union and away from the EU that caused the protests that drove him from power. Mad Vlad sent his little green men to grab a slice of Ukraine and all of the Crimean peninsula shortly thereafter.

    Putin’s copycat supranational thingy sounds ok on paper, but, even if it’s not some ploy to cement a Russian-dominated sphere of influence, the EU sounds even better. And we know the latter is not a ploy (and we’re seeing how the UK fares outside it, too).

    Point is, there doesn’t seem to be any off ramp for Mad Vlad seen this way. He failed to take over the country and install a puppet to voluntarily do his bidding, now he has to hang on to something, however bloody and ruined it gets.

    The wars on Chechnya lasted for years.

  27. JohnSF says:


    See, for example, most wars in history.

    Arguably more major wars end decisively than do not (though they may not resolve the larger geopolitical contest behind them).

    So neither Ukraine or the EU have any interest in a sub-optimal resolution.
    Especially as a “frozen conflict” is very sub-optimal indeed.
    A “frozen conflict” will leave large areas of the Ukraine, although controlled by Ukraine, economically unviable.
    This will require massive ongoing aid, and leave Ukraine economically crippled, and almost certainly millions of Ukrainian refugees unable or unwilling to return home

    This is NOT an acceptable outcome for Ukraine or Europe.

    It might have to accepted if no other choice was available; but an alternative is to hand.
    Ukraine can, for the foreseeable future, and given Western aid, destroy Russian forces at a greater rate than Russia can replace them.
    Ukraine has the will to do so; the West can supply the means.
    And has every reason to supply the means, and several very good reason not to discontinue supply.
    Especially as energy security measures are now in place to enable the EU to weather the winter energy demand issue.

    Breaking the Russian Army is the preferable course.

    Especially as Putin appears inclined to co-operate in this objective by his own operational incompetence: dispersion of effort, inadequate forces in exposed and untenable position, feeding new manpower in a steady tickle into the meatgrinder, etc.

    If he is offering up his army for destruction it would be churlish to refuse to oblige him.

  28. JohnSF says:

    There’s a difference between different sorts of “phony peace”:
    A qualified peace, where one (or sometimes both) sides are content to let things lie, perhaps for a long time, but ready to take advantage if the circumstances change (see e.g. Franco-Prussian War)
    Or a “frozen conflict” with a nominal cease fire with episodes of shelling or “clashes” (see eg Donbas 2014-22)

    The first permits normal life to resume; the second does not.

  29. Barry says:

    @JohnSF: in addition, the second will only last until Putin rebuilds forces and stockpiles.

  30. JohnSF says:

    I think a reasonably durable peace is available.
    But it will require bringing the rulers of Russia to their senses.
    This will probably require the infliction of massive losses and reverses on the Russian military, to the extent that it is plain that no pseudo-mobilization can restore it.
    And the EU passing through this winter without a political crisis.

    It is plain Putin is pinning his hope on Western will to support Ukraine collapsing before his army collapses.
    The obvious way to disabuse him of both delusions is to increase the scale and scope of Western assistance.

  31. Andy says:


    Sure, the best outcome is a complete Ukrainian win that doesn’t result in a wider war or a nuclear exchange. I would just be careful about claims that it is the only acceptable outcome, because reality may decide that the preferable outcome can’t be achieved – at least at a cost that Ukraine and its supporters are willing to bear, particularly those who actually have skin in this game.

    And the “frozen” conflict has already been going on since 2014 – taking back territory that Russia took in the last six months is one thing, taking back areas that Russia has de facto controlled for most of a decade is quite another.

  32. JohnSF says:

    I see no sign that the cost is likely to become unacceptable for Ukraine.
    Reporting, and polling, indicates that in most of the country Zelensky would probably face serious problems if he went for a sub-maximal peace.

    This could change if Russia could achieve serious gains on the battlefield.

    But given the wreckage of the initial expeditionary army, and the lower quality (material and training) and likely incremental fed-in of new/recycled forces the chances of that are very low indeed.

    Even if Russia committed a full 300,000 (which seems the current general estimate of numbers) Ukraine will still outnumber them and have an increasing material edge. In quality, and in some case in quantity.

    And Russia won’t do that: they’ll waste away tens of thousands in incremental replacements.

    At present all Russian reinforcement can gain is a slower, bigger, defeat for Russia.

    The other people who have direct “skin in this game” are the public and governments of Europe.

    As I’ve mentioned, we are looking at energy bills this winter double to quadruple last year; increases already announced in UK.
    Opinion polling is shifting a little if cost of living is prompted to respondents. but still majority in favour of supporting war measures.

    And in any case, its gone beyond mere public opinion: there are decisive weights across most European key establishment (excluding Hungary and some factions of SPD in Germany) for fighting this out.

    Taking back territory that Russia took in the last six months is one thing, taking back areas that Russia has de facto controlled for most of a decade is quite another.

    No it’s not: not if the Russian Army is to mangled to defend it.
    Which at this point appears highly likely.

    They might be able to scrape together and pull back enough to hold the Crimean causeways next year; but odds are DNR and LNR are gone.

    Unless Russia starts being sensible: abandon Kherson, fall back to greatly shortened lines.
    No sign of that so far.
    They look like procrastinating themselves into disaster; again.

  33. Andy says:

    And in any case, its gone beyond mere public opinion: there are decisive weights across most European key establishment (excluding Hungary and some factions of SPD in Germany) for fighting this out.

    Well, the problem is that Ukraine is doing the actual fighting, not the rest of Europe.

    As an American, it’s particularly annoying considering at least the last three administrations have warned you about relying too much on Russian energy, and it turns out we have been correct all along. And we’ve also been pointing out for decades out how under-invested in defense you are to the point that you can’t conduct independent operations without US support despite having comparable population and GDP. And the result of this is that when it comes to supporting to Ukraine, the US is still supplying almost double the military aid of the EU, UK, and Canada combined.

    So no, you do not have much skin in this game at all. You don’t get to dictate war goals to Ukraine, and even the US should not have that right. Frankly, I find such cheerleading from the sidelines about what Ukraine ought to do and ought to accept or not accept to be cynical at best.

  34. JohnSF says:

    You previously said:

    at least at a cost that Ukraine and its supporters are willing to bear, particularly those who actually have skin in this game.

    You might have made it clearer, perhaps, that you just meant Ukraine and the US.
    Or given the context of your earlier comments, just the US?
    Or maybe just US “realists”?

    Also, in regard to aid, the US is indeed supplying it at a scale which is vital to Ukraine, and for which Ukraine in particular and Europe as whole are and should be grateful for.

    Though, I might also note that in assistance per head, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Norway, and the UK all come ahead of the US.
    If that counts for anything.
    Maybe, in your book, it does not.

    In any case:
    We are NOT dictating war goals to Ukraine.
    If Ukraine decides tomorrow on a ceasefire, fine.
    If Ukraine wishes to surrender Crimea, Donbas, or whatever: fine.
    It is THEIR decision.
    I will support whatever they decide.
    So, I think, would the UK, and all of Europe.
    Clear enough?

    I might note, on judgements as to what they are likely to decide, you have repeatedly been mistaken; about the politics of Ukraine and other things.
    And promulgated a “realistic” view of the situation that most Ukrainians, to the best of my knowledge find abhorrent.
    That is fair argument though, and to be mistaken is possible.
    I certainly am frequently mistaken myself.
    So also, to disagree on matters of judgement.

    But on a more personal note:

    Frankly, I find such cheerleading from the sidelines about what Ukraine ought to do and ought to accept or not accept to be cynical at best.

    I happen to have friends and relations in Ukraine.
    About who I am concerned.
    And more generally, I find the toll to which Ukraine has been subjected in this war extremely distressing.

    So Andy, you can take your snide and insulting comments, write them down on paper, roll it in a ball, grease it, and shove it up your rear,
    Fair enough?