“One way ticket from Moscow to Dubai Sir?  That’ll be 300,0000 roubles. Or to put it another way – five months’ salary.”

That was the price just hours ahead of President Putin’s announcement of a partial military mobilisation. Tickets were selling fast, but not as quickly as to cheaper “no visa” destinations such as Turkey and Armenia – they sold out. Pressure on Russia’s most popular flight-booking site, Aviasales, eased when details were announced but there are still hundreds of thousands of men in Russia worried that they may be spending Christmas on the front lines in Ukraine.

Putin said conscription would begin immediately and affect “only citizens who are currently in the reserve”. Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, then gave more details about Russia’s first mobilisation since the Second World War. About 300,000 troops will be drawn from the 2 million strong reservists. They will undergo retraining before being put together in units and sent into Ukraine. He also updated Russia’s version of casualty figures which included a remarkable and palpably ridiculous claim about the number of Ukrainian military fatalities.