Russia – from super power to super minnow

During the 1980s, the USSR was one of the world’s two strongest nations. The US and USSR were competing with each other for almost anything, ranging from space programs to military hardware. In 1989, the USSR had a population of 287 million people (larger than the US) and a total GDP of almost 3 trillion USD. Looking back after two decades, not even remnants of the once great Soviet Empire can be found among its successor state, The Russian Federation. The USSR was a super power in almost all aspects. The current RF is number one only in terms of the number of drug addicts and epidemics like HIV-AIDS and XDR TB.

The USSR was able to maintain its superiority as a result of its homogeneous population (more than 85% of the population was White Slav, and they dominated the political sphere) and a strong military (the population was comparatively younger, compared to many Western nations, and this helped in securing the draftees). But the current Russian Federation is neither homogeneous (migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia are dominant in today’s Russia) nor united (relations between CIS nations like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldovia are not that warm). The military has declined from one of the world’s strongest to one of the weakest (Remember the 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict in which the Soviet military complately smashed the Chinese army in only a few days time), which is getting defeated in even small scale conflicts like those in Chechenya and Ossetia.

The Soviet Union was able to survive, despite losing more than 60 million of its citizens during the WW2 and genocides by Stalin. But the economic disaster which succeeded the breakup of the USSR affected the post-Soviet nations so badly (especially Russia and Ukraine), that they are still struggling to recover even after two decades.

The combined population of Slavs living in the FSU (former Soviet Union) declined by close to 20 million in just two decades. And remember, this time most of them died as a result of alcoholism and addiction to heroin. Villages in Central Russia and Eastern Ukraine are witnessing death rates in excess of 30 per 1,000. These sort of mortality has never occurred in any part of the world, at least during the time of peace. The population of Ukraine, which stood at 52 million in 1989, stands at 45 million as of 2011. At the same time, the number of Muslims and other non-Slavs living in RF and Ukraine are raising, as a result of higher birth rates and immigration. In short, the well educated and technologically advanced population is declining, while the less educated population is increasing.

With it’s population declining at a very steep rate and as it’s military weakens, Russia will witness much unrest and economic collapse within the next few decades time. The share of the dominant group (ethnic Russians) in the population is also declining. This can result in the fragmentation of the nation along ethnic lines.

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