Flights from Russia were nearly full after President Vladimir Putin said the country would mobilize reservists to fight in Ukraine.
Several news outlets and journalists said on Twitter that Russian airlines had stopped selling tickets to Russian men between the ages of 18 and 65 (the age of fighters) over fears that martial law might be imposed.
Meanwhile, the invasion of Ukraine has caused nearly $1 trillion in damage, a government official in Kyiv said on Thursday, as war batters the country’s economy.
In terms of “direct and indirect costs”, Ukraine suffered “somewhere close to a trillion dollars” in damage, said Oleg Ustenko, economic adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
That figure was equivalent to five times Ukraine’s annual GDP before the February invasion, Ustenko said at an event hosted by the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.
Ukraine handed over a key Putin ally in exchange for hundreds of prisoners of war, many captured in a historic battle, a trade that has outraged pro-Kremlin propagandists.
Viktor Medvedchuk was one of 55 people handed over to Russia in exchange for 215 prisoners, including 188 who withstood for months the Russian onslaught at the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol at the start of the war, Zelenskyy said.
Five Ukrainian commanders were also released as part of the deal on condition that they spend the rest of the war in Turkey under the personal protection of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Zelenskiy said. Five British citizens, two Americans and three other foreigners were also freed as part of mediation efforts involving Saudi Arabia, he said.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for playing a “vital” role in negotiations to free the foreign prisoners, who were flown to Riyadh after their release.
Police arrested around 1,400 people during protests in 38 Russian cities on Wednesday against the mobilization order, according to watchdog group OVD-Info. Some of the detained men received summons notices.
Britain officially lifted a fracking moratorium for shale gas on Thursday, saying boosting energy supplies was a “top priority”.
Energy prices soared in Europe after Russia invaded Ukraine, and Britain is subsidizing household and business bills at a projected cost of over £100 billion (113 billions of dollars).
Prime Minister Liz Truss said earlier this month that fracking – extracting shale gas from rocks by breaking
them up to – would be allowed where it was supported by communities.