At a Red Cross center in Moscow, a dark-haired woman nervously held a phone to her ear, trying to dig out details about her Jewish roots to help her son flee President Vladimir Putin’s drive to mobilize troops to fight in Ukraine.
“Mum, your grandfather Moishe was born in 1870, like Lenin, right?” she asked.
“Getting an Israeli passport is the only way for my son not to go to fight in Ukraine,” the exhausted woman, who declined to give her name for security reasons, explained to AFP.
Tens of thousands of Russians have fled the country since Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February and then announced a nationwide military call-up in September.
Many have scrambled to find their Jewish roots to open up the doors to Israel. Under Israel’s Law of Return, anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent is eligible for Israeli citizenship, as are people who convert to Judaism.