Russia’s population is forecast to almost halve within a generation as deaths from suicide and alcoholism escalate and the birthrate falls against a background of economic decline.
The number of Russians could shrink from 143.5 million to 80 million by 2050 unless the government takes urgent action, according to Yury Krupnov, the head of the Institute for Demography, Migration and Regional Development.
Low incomes even in regions close to Moscow plus widespread pessimism over the future meant that young people were reluctant to start families. __ http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4537989.ece
Russia’s leaders appear to be unconcerned about the demographic tragedy that is building in Russia’s periphery, and moving inward toward the centre.
“But the problem is that our authorities are not interested in creating jobs, even if the population [in these rural areas] shrinks by half. For as long as there are at least 50 million Russians in a few big cities feeding the oil and gas pipelines and lining their pockets, the men in power feel happy.” __ http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/01/trying-to-build-democracy-in-a-hellish-russian-village-called-paradise.html
Russia’s largely unhealthy population of young males of military age cannot support too many more wars.
There are few good men left in Russia. The best are leaving, and Russian women are disgusted with Russian men who are staying behind (more).
Economic hardship during the ongoing Putin recession has driven death rates upward by 5.2% in the first quarter of this year alone. As conditions worsen, Russia’s demographics may be pushed beyond the point of no return.
At rates of current national decline, Russia is unlikely to ever solve its catastrophic pollution crisis, inherited from USSR days and worsening by the year.
50 percent of Russia’s water is not potable. Air pollution continues to be an extremely serious issue, suggesting that a solution proposed during the late-Soviet period continues to hold sway. Back then, a Russian health minister advised the country to “breathe less” in order to live longer. __ http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2014/03/numbers-vladimir-putin-doesnt-want-you-to-see
Strikingly, Russia’s bestest friend forever (!) is undergoing a similar pollution crisis.
China’s Pollution Crisis
Most of the world’s worst air is in China’s cities… The problems of polluted soil and water are less visible but possibly even worse.
Former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao once described China’s water problems as a threat to national survival. About 300 million people drink contaminated water every day.
… over-extraction of groundwater means that many of China’s new cities are already sinking, which in turn threatens every new thing that has been built from high-rise buildings to high-speed rail. __ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34290986
In both Russia and China, the health of infants and newborns suffers from widespread air and water pollution. Only 30% of Russia’s babies are born healthy, and the rate of birth defects in China is 3X higher than in developed countries.
Economic problems make it even harder for China and Russia to solve their many ongoing problems of pollution, health, crumbling infrastructure, and demographic crises in the making.
The governments of both countries hold a tight grip over most information sources in their respective fiefdoms. But so many Russians and Chinese have left their native countries for better opportunities abroad, that government controlled media cannot keep a lid on what is happening within these backward nations.
Russia is losing control of Siberia to China, without a shot needing to be fired. When the time comes to consolidate complete control of Siberia, China will be ready.
Consider it the clash of the totalitarian polluting prison states. Everyone knows it is coming. It’s just a matter of when and how.
Sanctions pressure is causing parts of the Russian economy to begin to buckle.
Simply put, Russia is starting to realize it cannot weather the sanctions much longer, particularly because the next five years will already be a difficult time for the Russian economy. __ Stratfor
One way the Kremlin is staying above water, is by dipping into foreign currency reserves — including critical pension funds. But recently, Russia has been taking pension contributions directly from workers and applying them immediately against the income deficit.
High level Kremlin talks have considered the issue of defaulting on foreign loans. More Russian insiders are looking favorably on that option.
According to a recent report in RBC, [Putin advisor] Glazyev has prepared a comprehensive strategy to “overcome the effect of the West’s economic sanctions” and to “stabilize the course of the ruble.” As far as goals go both of these are entirely understandable, if not entirely praiseworthy (an exchange rate is best thought of not as a goal in and of itself, but as an output of other kinds of policy). __ Kremlin Fights Back
Putin has taken a big chance by moving his troops to Syria, leaving behind less backing for the separatists in Donbass. And the separatists are not happy with the direction that Putin seems to be heading. Needless to say, most Ukrainians were very unhappy with Putin already. And now there is growing discontent in Belarus.
… over the past two years we have seen the beginning of “the process of normalizing relations between Belarus and the West,” which “is the natural response of Belarus to the economic collapse in Russia and the need to find new markets and new partners to ensure further development of its own economy.”
Lukashenka has refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia and even ridiculed Moscow’s logic justifying the annexation, saying that Mongolia could just as easily lay claim to large swaths of Russian territory.
He has carved out a neutral stance on the conflict in the Donbas, has said he would never allow Belarusian territory to be used to attack another state, and has made it clear that Belarus isn’t interested in being part of Putin’s so-called “Russian World.”