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I would like to meet someone in Russia, but now most inbound international flights to Russia have stopped. My passport puts me on good terms with both Russia and Georgia and fortunately does not require a visa for either country (I am not European and entering from that side would be much more difficult for me).

I am travelling from South America, so there is some cost to get to Georgia. Hence the concern.

I understand the border crossing in question is Verkhniy Lars (Верхний Ларс). I am wondering if land crossing by this border post is open / crossable by train or auto in late 2022, or if others (especially those who can enter visa-free into Russia) have had problems here? Or returning?

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    I know somebody who crossed it in the other direction recently and had no trouble other than an extremely long wait. But that can change pretty rapidly.
    – Chris H
    Oct 6, 2022 at 15:18
  • (1) Train is hard because you'd have to go via Abkhazia (disputed territory) or Azerbaijan; (2) Car is hard because you might not be allowed to take a rental car across the border; (3) Crossing without a car may be hard because I think you can't legally cross on foot.
    – gerrit
    Oct 7, 2022 at 8:05
  • @Engineer, at this time traveling to Russia is a political expression. So questions about traveling there is also a political expression. Warnings about the political and security situation do fit.
    – Willeke
    Oct 8, 2022 at 10:31
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    You seem to be aware of it already, but I will reiterate just in case: while getting in may be relatively easy, getting out may be much more difficult. Given the massive amount of Russian citizens moving abroad right now, flight tickets are hard to come by and land border crossings are saturated. And that is on top of the uncertainty of the evolving political situation, which may lead to flight cancellations and closing of certain border crossings with little forewarning. I would really urge you to reconsider, and ask your friend to join you in Georgia (or other) instead. Oct 8, 2022 at 11:03
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    Just reading between the lines, no need to answer. Are you sure your friend exists ?
    – Criggie
    Oct 8, 2022 at 23:35

2 Answers 2

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According to this reuters report from a week ago, there are restrictions on cars entering North Ossetia due to the number of Russians who are fleeing the country. However, it also says

the ban would not apply to residents or tourists, or to cars entering from Georgia or its breakaway South Ossetia region.

So this implies that you can cross there - but that was a week ago.

But given the large numbers of Russians who are leaving via that border crossing, I would not expect it to be an easy crossing to make (the article mentioned 20,000 people in 2 days)

This site appears to show the current conditions and estimated wait times at this crossing. (I didn't fully look as I am not removing my ad blocker for this site)

And this article from 3 days ago talks more about current conditions on the Russian side of the border, and mentions rampant corruption by the border guards - which you may have to deal with when leaving the country.

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  • Thanks Peter. This corresponds with what my Russian friend has just told me - it will not be easy until this egress over the border lessens.
    – Engineer
    Oct 6, 2022 at 15:14
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    @Engineer Unfortunately there is no way to predict what might happen in the future. For all we know, Putin might order all borders closed tomorrow.
    – Peter M
    Oct 6, 2022 at 15:16
  • @PeterM Even in Putins Russia it seems unlikely that foreigners already in the country would not be allowed to leave.
    – gerrit
    Oct 7, 2022 at 8:10
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    @gerrit Aside from "who knows?", it could be a closing of physical border crossings (such as this one), but still allowing egress via airports only.
    – Peter M
    Oct 7, 2022 at 13:32
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As Peter has already said, the border is currently open and there are thousands of Russians trying to cross from Russia to Georgia. I expect that the opposite direction will be simpler, although it can also be that all the border guards are occupied with people coming from Russia. So you may have to wait even if there is nobody else coming from Georgia.

A bigger problem may be accommodation. I think that accommodation on both sides of the border is very expensive now, and may not even be available at all.

At the same time, I think you can find some advantages in the current situation. For example, you may easily find transportation to the border in Georgia, and from the border in Russia, because the demand is very high in the opposite direction. Taxis and buses apparently go almost empty in your direction. So overall I think one may say that currently the situation is even more favorable for crossing into Russia than it usually was.

However, you may face problems coming back. I really doubt that Russia will close the border to foreigners, but the lines may be horribly long (think several days!)

At the same time, your statement "most inbound international flights to Russia have stopped" is not quite true. The flights from Europe and USA have stopped. But there are plenty of flights from Turkey, UAE, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and many other other countries. Moreover, I think these flights inbound to Russia should be rather cheap now because there is high demand on flights from Russia (and prices are very high). So the airlines may be selling flights to Russia very cheap because they need to move the aircraft there anyway.

If you give more details about where you need to travel to and what passport you have (as a separate question), I think people here will be glad to find alternate routes.

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    flights inbound to Russia should be rather cheap now – this may be true, but if OP wants to return via Georgia, the flight back there may be prohibitively expensive. Either way, while getting from Georgia into Russia may be easy, the opposite direction is likely to involve a long wait and/or absurd ticket prices.
    – user149408
    Oct 8, 2022 at 16:29
  • Absurd doesn't even begin to describe it , we have seen tickets to Serbia in plain economy class reaching ten thousand US dollars.
    – user4188
    Oct 10, 2022 at 2:29

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