Putin’s megalomania unwittingly created a backdoor for those hoping to flee his abuse and tyranny; simply claim an intent to be closer, when actually trying to get further away.
Details are being shared now by Ukrainian refugees who managed to slip through Russian occupation checkpoints.
Much like the Underground Railroad for Black slaves, those seeking to escape were instructed on what to say at the border.
“You never say you are going into Europe,” she said. Nor does one tell border guards their intention is to flee the invasion.
Instead, it is best to say “I’m looking for work because I lost my job,” she said.
It’s best to say because of the situation “I’m heading to Moscow to work,” she said.
That is how those fleeing Ukraine are permitted into Russia.
Her 66-year-old father, meanwhile, could not say he was looking for work. He was retired and had nothing to do with the Ukrainian army.
“They did not particularly care about him,” she said.
Either he was so unimportant or they were stupid, but they let him through, she added.
Moscow elites used to partying in gilded ivory towers (EU reported €17 billion frozen for just 90 Russian citizens) are indeed totally desperate for anyone to do real work, even a 66-year-old.
Factories in Russia producing military equipment are working nonstop and have withdrawn New Year holidays from employees.
While I appreciate the reference to the underground railroad, it was… different.
American slaves were escaping what America had been since its start (under racist tyranny of men like Washington and Lee). They set out to reach freedom in what America was struggling to become (under emancipation by men like Lincoln and Grant).
Ukrainians however (besides not being slaves) escape a foreign occupation to be refugees in a foreign country (Russia first, then elsewhere).
Hopefully it’s clear in Civil War that the American slaves on a railroad weren’t going deeper into the Confederacy. Even areas of the United States occupied by Confederate forces meant escape was towards the remaining Union.
To be fair, Putin claimed Russian troops were sent to occupy Russian territory and shoot at Russians who resisted Russian tyranny.
That does sound a LOT like how the Confederate South had announced their plans for invasion and occupation of the United States to expand slavery (military force used in continuation of the corrupt Missouri “compromise”).
A more historically accurate and exact comparison thus might be if a railroad of Russians were escaping to freedom in unoccupied Ukraine, as Ukrainian forces marched to liberate… Moscow from Russia.
See how the reverse angle, social engineering an appeal to Putin’s absurd ego, is so disarming to Russians?
I point out the broader definitions and differences mainly as a technicality of how Russian security succumbed to a basic and common flaw. A timeless “hack” doesn’t need to be historically grounded to be explained.
If a Ukrainian passed through the Russian ingress test, an egress to safety was almost guaranteed, which is why the modern story about social engineering (use of a trivial fealty phrase for the authority to leave) is so useful as a lesson.
Escape from dictatorship can be unlocked (a trust token achieved) through claims of wanting to gladly be at work for the dictator.