By Joseph A. D’Agostino

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, December 21, 2006 ( –”In general, Russia suffers from a frightening poverty in the sphere of facts and a frightening wealth of all types of arguments,” wrote Chekhov in a letter to a friend. Now, Russia suffers from a destructive poverty of a sort that she has not in a long time, of people, while she continues to groan under an increasing surfeit of social and domestic problems.

Previous would-be conquerors of Russia such as Napoleon and Hitler failed due to her harsh winters and inexhaustible supply of men. Contemporary conquerors, and there are two eyeing Russia hungrily, apparently will have only the winters with which to contend.

Some think that France will be the first European country in modern times to be taken over by Muslims due to her very large, violent immigrant population and effeminate native populace. Others point to the Netherlands, from which native Dutch people are beginning to flee in the face of hostile Islamism among the immigrants in that densely-populated nation. But Russia—a huge nation with vast natural resources, thousands of nuclear warheads, and until recently a global superpower—-may be the first to go under. This seems possible even though Russia suffers little from the suicidal tolerance and multiculturalism that afflicts Western Europeans.

All the would-be conquerors, tyrannical tsars, and sinister Communists could not destroy Russia. Yet there is a force more powerful than all these, a force which can overcome comparatively minor factors such as wealth, size, and military power, and that is demographics. And it is demographics that will deliver Russia into the hands of chaos, Islam, China, or most likely a combination of all three.

Among large countries of the world, Russia is disintegrating the fastest. Her total fertility rate is down to 1.3 children per woman in her lifetime according to the United Nations Population Division, far below the replacement rate of 2.1. This is lowest low fertility from which no human society has ever recovered. An astounding 70% of Russian pregnancies end in abortion, taking stereotypical Russian fatalism to new depths. Russian men have a life expectancy on par with Bangladeshis.

Young people are emigrating out of Russia fast. In fact, her population is plummeting by 700,000 people a year and is already 5 million below its peak of 15 years ago. Given the sky-high abortion rate, very low birthrate, and rapid emigration of young people, Russia is aging fast. In 20 years, one out of four Russians will be 60 or over. Men in particular are dropping like flies: There are only 86.6 men for every 100 women in Russia (in the United States, it’s 96.8).

In the last years of Soviet Communism, Russia’s birthrate was 2.1. As odd as it may sound, Russian society was healthier then. What do greater freedoms matter if there are no people to enjoy them? Of course, how free
Russia is today, with her fascist president and KGB-dominated gangster-style capitalism, is debatable.

No one can argue that Russia is overcrowded. She has a mere eight people per square kilometer. In the future, who will defend all this empty space and the resources and weapons it contains?

In 2015, less than ten years from now, Muslims could make up a majority of the Russian military. Military service is compulsory for young Russian men, though only 10% actually serve due to college deferments, bribes to escape duty, and the like. Given the famously brutal Russian military, perhaps avoiding military service is forgivable. But will the generals be able to avoid having a Muslim military if most young men who haven’t fled
Russia are Muslim? Will such a military operate effectively given the fury that many domestic Muslims feel toward the Russian military’s tactics in the Muslim region of Chechnya? What if other Muslim regions of
Russia—-some of which contain huge oil reserves—-rebel against Moscow? Will Muslim soldiers fight and kill to keep them part of the Russian motherland?

Last year, Russia’s top Muslim religious leader Ravil Gaynutdin, chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, asserted that 23 million indigenous Muslims live in Russia, which has a total population of 143 million. Russia also has about 4 million Muslim immigrants, making her total Muslim population around 27 million or almost 20%. Even if Gaynutdin is exaggerating the numbers, no one disputes that it’s the Muslims who are having the children-—and that Russians of Christian heritage are having very few indeed. And Muslim men live a lot longer, on average, than Russian men as a whole, perhaps due to intact family structures and relative lack of alcoholism.

Middle Eastern money has been pouring into Russia to fortify Islam and serve the increasingly radical Muslim population there, just as it has almost everywhere else in the world. In 1990, there were 500 mosques in
Russia. Now, there are 5,000.

With birthrates, death rates, and emigration rates the way they are now, it is highly plausible that Russia could be majority Muslim by 2040. All that oil, all that land, all those nukes for Islam.

Maybe not. There is some competition. The Chinese have been colonizing eastern Russia, where so many of that great nation’s resources lie but so few of her people live, since the Soviet Union’s collapse. Up to five
million Chinese live in far eastern Russia, inhabited by as few as 15 million Russians. The number of Chinese grows every day while the number of Russians decreases. If Russia is going to break up, why shouldn’t the
Communist Chinese get some of the best bits? That area used to belong to China anyway.

China’s fast-growing economy needs ever more raw material, and she has become a net importer of oil, an expensive commodity whose supply is always threatened by instability. As PRI President Steve Mosher points out in his book Hegemon, taking control of Siberia from a declining Russia could go a long way toward realizing China’s superpower dreams.

Just as Russia participated in the partitioning of Poland, look to the Muslims and Chinese to partition Russia, or at least large, resource-rich parts of her. And all because of demographics.

Joseph A. D’Agostino is Vice President for Communications at the
Population Research Institute.