Incredible Shrinking Russia

The Incredible Shrinking Russian Army

… the Russian military is seen as a crippled institution and one not likely to get better any time soon. With so many of the troops now one year conscripts, an increasing number of the best officers and NCOs get tired of coping with all the alcoholics, drug users, and petty criminals that are taken in just to make quotas. With the exodus of the best leaders, and the growing number of ill-trained and unreliable conscripts, the Russian military is more of a mirage than an effective combat (or even police) organization.

Shrinking Russian Economy

Russia’s shrinking hopes

Hardships will hit Russia’s private businesses hardest, even while the government continues pumping budgetary funds into bailouts for state-owned corporations headed by Putin’s close associates. And yet, private businesses will ultimately suffer even more from retaliatory measures taken by the Russian government and by the actions of state-owned corporations that are jacking up prices for their services and reducing market liquidity.

Shrinking financial reserves and credit standing (18 Oct 2014)

Russia’s shrinking freedoms of expression

Shrinking Siberia

Shrinking workforce

Russia’s shrinking alternatives

Shrinking number of fertile women

An irreversibly shrinking population More

Shrinking Russian loan market and more capital flight

Shrinking travel rights for Russians who wish to go abroad

Travel restrictions could … be seen as a way of stemming the so-called “brain-drain,” which has seen thousands of Russian-educated specialists leaving the country in search of jobs elsewhere.

Shrinking number of military-age males More


Arms and branches 2008 2012 Reduction
Ground Forces 1,890 172 -90 %
Air Force 340 180 -48 %
Navy 240 123 -49 %
Strategic Rocket Forces 12 8 -33 %
Space Forces 7 6 -15 %
Airborne Troops 6 5 -17 %

A shrunken Russian space satellite fleet

At this time only three of the 98 spy satellites in orbit are Russian while 31 are American and the rest are from a number of countries (including Israel).

Russian Population Pyramid 2013

Russian Population Pyramid 2013

The “population pyramid” helps to visualise the movement of age cohorts over time. For example, if there is only a small proportion of children compared to older age groups, a shortage of working-age, fertile-age, and military-age persons may be in the offing.

One of the reasons that Russia is shrinking in so many ways:

Political scientist Ivan Krastev argues that to understand Putin, one must understand how a KGB agent thinks. The job of the KGB man, unlike that of a member of the military or a Communist Party apparatchik, is not to create hierarchical structures and keep them under control, but to infiltrate and capture them while maintaining the appearance of normal operation. To succeed in this task, he must understand people’s key motivations and aspirations. Here, Putin has demonstrated his genius: those who wanted money have been well paid, and those who longed for identity have had their lost self esteem restored. That old KGB operative who confesses he always wanted to be a secret agent has conducted a brilliant operation. Russia has been transformed into a double agent which, while appearing to serve the Russians, allows these KGB ex-agents to maintain power and to control the apparatus of the state as well as its economic and media levers. __ Jose Ignacio Torreblanca

Will Putin relax his dreams of power and empire in order to allow Russia to survive?

Bonus: Other ways in which Russia may be shrinking (or growing)

… mutual dependence is driving Russia towards political and economic isolation — with serious consequences for ordinary Russians’ livelihoods. Sooner or later, Putin’s approval rating will plummet. The challenge facing Russians is to ensure that, when it does, they have broken their destructive dependence on belief in him. (Foreign observers, too, should abandon the habit of focusing all of their attention on the person at the top.)

In the meantime, no one can predict the ends to which Putin will go to prop up his presidency. __ Mutual Dependency Between Putin and Russian Public Support for an Absurdist Kremlin


Russia’s shrinking supply of military suppliers

Russia’s decline accelerated by sanctions

Ukraine’s neighbors begin to gear up for proxy war with Russia

Putin’s Pyrrhic victories in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine set the stage for ultimate let-down, as Russia’s self-isolation worsens

Under Putin, madness is becoming a necessity

When faced with the ongoing decline of Russia, Putin had a choice. He could have invited more trade, investment, and cooperation in a peaceful manner. Instead, Putin made the fateful choice for violence and isolation — going so far as to threaten Europe with nuclear attack if he did not get everything he wanted in Ukraine.

Westerners who still identify with Putin, and still believe in the Putin narrative, should perhaps move to Moscow or St. Petersburg as soon as possible. There is nothing like placing your fate alongside your spoken convictions.

This entry was posted in Brain Drain, Russia, Russian Collapse, Russian Oil Curse, Siberia and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Incredible Shrinking Russia

  1. Pingback: Incredible Shrinking Russia |

  2. John Howard Oxley says:

    Two things about this:

    1) For a shrinking nation, Russia is doing surprisingly well in invading Ukraine and bending most of its ‘near abroad’ to its will, as well as demonstrating greater global reach with its overflights of various NATO countries; and
    2) There is evidence on “Johnson’s Russia List” that the Russian demography has had a remarkable turn-around, and that Russia is now growing faster than Europe. I don’t know enough about this to be certain, but I have to say such a rapid demographic turnaround looks suspicious — either the original data were wrong, or the turnaround is not real.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Sure, it is important for Putin to put on as good a show as he can. If you remember the story of the Potemkin Village, you will better understand the truth behind the “movie set” facades. Putin was forced to increase his propaganda and intelligence disinformation budgets appreciably, even in the midst of a financial crisis.

      Russian population has been temporarily stabilised by the offspring of Muslim immigrants. The annexation of Crimea also boosted Russia’s population.

      Expert demographers understand that this respite is temporary without massive new immigration into Russia. You can get a hint of the reason by looking at Russia’s population pyramid, showing age cohorts.

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