Germany sees spike in asylum applications from Russian citizens

In the first three months of 2023, Germany received almost as many asylum applications from Russian citizens as they did in the whole of 2022.

Federal Office for Migration
Germany's Office for Migration in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

​​When Russia’s war in Ukraine began on February 24th, 2022, many people seeking protection fled to Germany. Mainly they were women and children.

Yet in the first part of 2023, more and more asylum seekers – especially young men – are coming from Russia, according to the latest figures from the Federal Office for Migration (BAMF).

READ ALSO: ‘It feels like a dream’: The Ukrainian refugees arriving in Berlin from war zone

In the first three months of 2023, a total of 2,381 Russian citizens had applied for asylum in Germany. This means that after just a few months, the number came close to that of the whole of 2022, when 2,851 applications were recorded.

There was also a significant increase in the age group of 19- to 30-year-old men and women from Russia, according to the figures. Overall, Russians now submit the seventh highest number of asylum applications.

In March, asylum seekers from Syria made up the largest group applying for protection in Germany, or 23.7 percent, followed by Afghanistan (19.1 percent) and Turkey (13.4 percent)

More young men

In 2022, 59 percent of asylum applicants from Russia were male. From January to the end of March 2023, the figure stood at 64 percent, according to BAMF.

The large increase in young men can be attributed to Russia’s mobilisation of civilians, according to a report from German publishing house Table.Media. 

Deserters “who do not want to take part in Putin’s war can apply for asylum in Germany. As a rule, they receive international protection,” a spokeswoman for the Federal Office told the publishing house. 

The number of deserters among the applicants, however, has not yet been determined.

Last autumn, Russia announced a “partial mobilisation” to enlist new soldiers for its war in Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of young men fled the country.

In the meantime, the Russian government has accelerated its recruitment efforts: draft notices no longer have to be handed over in person, but can be delivered electronically. Observers fear that the new method is a means of preparing for more widespread mobilisation.


asylum application – (der) Asylantrag

mobilisation – (die) Mobilmachung

take part/enlist – beteiligen

as a rule – im Regelfall

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German president urges fair migrant distribution on Italy trip

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Sicily Wednesday, calling for a fair distribution of migrants who arrive in Europe after a rise in boat arrivals in southern Italy.

German president urges fair migrant distribution on Italy trip

Steinmeier, who is being accompanied by Italian President Sergio Mattarella during the two-day visit, said both Germany and Italy were “at their limits”.

“We need a fair distribution in Europe and stronger controls and surveillance at our external borders,” he told Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily in an interview ahead of his trip.

The focus of the trip was the awarding of a joint prize by the two presidents aimed at enhancing bilateral ties, but will also include a private visit Thursday to a migrant charity.

Over 130,000 people have landed on Italian shores since the start of this year, according to the interior ministry, up from some 68,200 in the same period last year.

Some 8,500 migrants arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa last week in just three days, as the number of people crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa rose.

Germany is also dealing with “heavy immigration”, Steinmeier said, calling for “humane and sustainable European solutions”.

“We have to make every effort to make the loads sustainable and lower the number of arrivals,” he added.

Berlin revealed last week it was stopping accepting migrants living in Italy under a European solidarity plan. 

READ ALSO: Second German rescue ship detained in Italy

The voluntary scheme is aimed at easing pressure on EU border nations that are often the first port of call for migrants.

Germany said it could resume taking in migrants if Italy resumed its obligations to take back refugees.

Under the EU’s Dublin procedure, irregular migrants should be registered in the EU country they first enter. Should they head to another nation in the bloc, they can be returned to their EU first port of call.