According to many experts and political analysts, Russia is headed for a
demographic collapse because of a collapsing birth rate and a high mortality
rate. Questions are being raised about its ability to defend its borders from
immigrants from China, and to defend its identity as a country of ethnic
Russians. There are dire predictions that Russia will be a largely Muslim
country by 2050.

But some Russians take a more optimistic view. Writing in the Discovery Institute’s Russia Blog, Charles Ganske points out
that these predictions fit very neatly into a US foreign policy agenda. "It
followed from these premises that policies like expanding NATO into the Baltics,
and building oil and gas pipelines from former Soviet Central Asia to bypass
Russian territory, could be pursued without any consequences."

In fact, there is at least one Russian academic whose riposte is that the US
is heading for the trash can, and not Russia. Professor Igor Panarin, an academic
who teaches future Russian diplomats at Moscow's elite diplomatic academy,
claims (rather bizarrely, I must say) that "that the decline in traditional
morality in the U.S., federal overspending and excessive borrowing, long wars
abroad, and other trends are pulling America apart."

"At the end of the day, [writes Ganske] pundits and policy wonks can argue
about all the reasons — whether of affluence in Europe, or of poverty in the
former Soviet Union — women and men around the world choose to delay
childbearing, to have fewer kids, or to not have children at all. But human
beings, regardless of nationality, are never as predictable as actuarial or
demographic projections would suggest. Throughout its more than a thousand year
history, Russia has never been as strong or as weak as it has appeared to
outsiders. For my money, anyone betting on Russia to become too sick and
depopulated to matter in the 21st century is making a losing wager. Russia is
too proud of a nation to go gently into the night."

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet