Thousands of Russians flee for Thailand to avoid Ukraine war call-up as they ‘take over’ top resorts
TENS of thousands of Russians have fled to Thailand to escape a Ukraine war call-up.
Top tourist resorts, such as Phuket, have been swamped with draft dodgers.
Some have taken over neighbourhoods and have no intention of returning home.
Figures show at least 233,000 Russians have arrived on the isle of Phuket alone since November.
The flood has led to a home price boom as wealthy middle- class arrivals rent or buy to stay indefinitely on residential visas.
In Pattaya, would-be conscript Nikolai, 25, said he had travelled between Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to escape a call-up.
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.”
An insurance broker from Vladivostok — who did not want to be identified — said: “The huge wave of young men arriving here for an indefinite period is impossible to miss.”
British tourists recently in Thailand noticed the changes.
Michael Shackleton, 39, of Didsbury, Manchester, said: “In Pattaya you can’t move for Russian men of fighting age.”
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Colin Shepherd, 52, of Southampton, who was in Phuket with wife Helen, said: “All the menus are now in Russian as well as English. They’ve taken over.”
About 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in Ukraine in the past year.
Sofia Malygaevareal, a Moscow real estate agent now working in Phuket, said her clients are mostly aged 30-35 and wealthy.