As More Russians Flee Over Putin’s War On Ukraine, Other Countries Are Reaping

“When the war began,” said 45-year-old Sergei about Russia’s February 24 massive invasion of Ukraine, “we decided to leave for Kazakhstan.”

As soon as the school year finished in June, Sergei shut down his furniture-assembly plant in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, and left Russia with his wife and children. Like other Russians who spoke to RFE/RL for this story, Sergei asked that his identity be concealed out of concern for relatives and interests in Russia.

“I hope…we can stay here forever,” he told RFE/RL’s Siberia.Realities. “In Kazakhstan, I can say what I think, and I can breathe freely.”

In the first half of 2022, 419,000 Russians left the country, according to the Rosstat statistics agency. Although more recent figures have not been released, the exodus has likely grown since President Vladimir Putin announced a military mobilization on September 21. While it is unclear how many of those departures were Russians leaving the country for the long term, the loss of working-age people, entrepreneurs, and trained specialists has been a significant drain for Russia.

According to the BCS Global Markets analytical firm, individual Russians sent $14 billion abroad in the first nine months of the year.

In addition, more than 1,000 international companies have stop working in Russia because of unprecedented Western sanctions levied against Moscow following the invasion. Some 320 have left Russia completely. Hundreds of Russian businesses have also sought greener pastures abroad.

Although the large influx of Russians — many of whom have left their homeland for economic reasons rather than being political dissenters opposed to Putin’s policies — has produced spikes in rent and property prices and enflamed anti-Russian tensions in some quarters — countries like Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey are reporting significant economic benefits in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.


Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev said last month that more than 50 international companies had relocated from Russia to Kazakhstan. According to Prime Minister Alikhan Smaiylov, dozens more firms are in the process of negotiating such a move.

“This will significantly help the economy of our country,” Toqaev said.

In addition, more than 100 Russian firms — including Tinkoff Bank, ride-share company InDrive, game developer Playrix, and software developer MNG Partners — have either relocated to Kazakhstan or are in negotiations to do so.

According to Daulet Argandykov, president of the Human Resources Development Center in Kazakhstan, such companies have created 4,000-6,000 jobs and have a total capitalization of $27 billion.

Kazakh banks have also seen a windfall, according to the state financial markets regulator. As of October 10, deposits held by Russian citizens in Kazakh banks totaled $1.42 billion, while in June the deposits of all foreigners (Russians and non-Russians) in Kazakhstan amounted to $692 million.

“We are seriously thinking about settling here,” Sergei from Novosibirsk said. “My wife is a doctor and has found work. Our children are going to a Russian school and seem to be liking the new…

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