The war in Ukraine may very well be Russia’s last war or, at the very least last major war they will be able to fight effectively in this century; this is Russia’s last opportunity to conquer The Carpathian Mountains, having a range of 1,500km-long range in Central and Eastern Europe.
They stretch west to east in an arc from the Czech Republic to Romania. The Tatra range between Slovakia and Poland is a national park with several peaks above 2,400 meters.
More than half of the Carpathian range lies in Romania, where spruce forests are home to brown bears, wolves and lynxes.
According to the American writer, author and analyst Peter Zeihan, the Russians were fighting this Ukraine war in 2014. Direct involvement in 2022 is due to this is the last opportunity the Russians will have the capabilities to launch this kind of war.
The reason why the Russians are fighting this war now is that the last opportunity they will be able to glean information gaps of Russia in the West, which was controlled by the Soviet Union from 1945 until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and finally, the Soviet Union in 1990.
From the Russian security point of view, you’ll need to control Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey or, more accurately, the lands around Istanbul/Constantinople, Romania, and Finland, to have the security of depth provided by controlling these territories.
The Roman Empire and its last few centuries, during the crisis of the third century and its last centuries in the fourth and fifth centuries, relied on defence in depth.
The historian and author Edward Luttwak describe this where the Roman Empire used its legions to control the Empire’s interior and regularly launched campaigns to keep the barbarians either outside of the Empire or along its extremities.
When this failed, the legions, if they were in the area of the incursions, would fight the enemy within the debt of its territories.
The Roman Empire also used client kingdoms and Kings to keep its enemies outside of its borders, like the Russians used Belarus and its client Chechnya.
This is why Vladimir Putin is hoping for security In-depth by control of client nations to ensure the safety of Russia; the reason for the Russian people and its various incarnations be that Imperial, Communist, or other goals are national security.
Unfortunately for the Russians, with the United States withdrawing from its security commitments after World War II and again its expansion in the 1990s with the collapse of the former Soviet bloc, European nations, for better or worse, are getting good at war.
The continent of Europe has had over 70 years of peace being guaranteed by the United States of America is difficult for current generations to remember that the continent of Europe is the bloodiest continent on the planet.
Europe is home to strongly independent, historically warlike nations that each, in their own time, try to dominate their corner of the continent.
Now each of those nations is united in their mistrust, fear and annoyance at Russia, which is not a good place to be for any country.
The Numbers of Russia’s Decline
It can be argued without doubt and with great sadness that the 20th century was an utter disaster for the Russian people starting with the First World War from 1914 to 1917.
The Russian Empire included 1,451,000 killed or missing in action and died of wounds. The estimate of the 1,811,000 total Russian militaries and 1,500,00 civilian deaths was made by the Soviet demographer Boris Urlanis.
During the Soviet period 1917 to 1990, during the late 1920s and 1930s, during the rule of Joseph Stalin, Wheatcroft gives an estimate of 5.5 to 6.5 million deaths.
The Encyclopædia Britannica estimates that 6 to 8 million people died from hunger in the Soviet Union during this period, of whom 4 to 5 million were Ukrainians.
Though it has been estimated to be much higher than around 22 million, the statistics are again heavily debated, so it may be much safer for memory and factual valet to remember the number of approximately 5 million to 5.5 million deaths.
American historian William D. Rubinstein concluded that, even under most conservative estimates, Stalin was responsible for at least 7 million deaths, or about 4.2% of the USSR’s total population.
As for World War II, losses of the Soviet Union were about 27,000,000, both civilian and military, from all war-related causes, although exact figures are disputed. The total number of deaths is often rounded to 22 to 24 million.
All these deaths are so crucial because Russia, in terms of its overall population, never recovered in terms of birthrates from these losses; there was some growth in the 1980s, but this collapsed with the Soviet collapse and instability in the 1990s.
Population figures in places like China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia stay at high levels, not due to new births but due to old people living much longer lives than the historical noun.
Naturally, this will create problems of who will pay the retirement for old people and their increasing healthcare demands; unfortunately, the answer is no one.
For any nation to maintain its current population levels, it must have a birth rate of 2.1. Russia’s current birth rate is at 1.58; with the birth rate being this low, there are only two viable options.
One is to have more children, which may be too late; not being enough eligible males and females, Russians reverse the decline.
The second option being used by primary Western European nations and the United States of America is to use immigration to build up their population.
These two options are out of the Russians to locate because they are out of time and don’t have an open society that can cope with immigration.
Sources and Bibliography
REPERES – module 1-1-1 – explanatory notes – World War I casualties – EN.pdf http://www.centre-robert-schuman.org/userfiles/files/REPERES%20%E2%80%93%20module%201-1-1%20-%20explanatory%20notes%20%E2%80%93%20World%20War%20I%20casualties%20%E2%80%93%20EN.pdf
Excess mortality in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excess_mortality_in_the_Soviet_Union_under_Joseph_Stalin#:~:text=American%20historian%20William%20D.,4.2%25%20of%20USSRs%20total%20population.
Holodomor Ukrainian history https://www.britannica.com/event/Holodomor
Research Starters: Worldwide Deaths in World War II https://www.nationalww2museum.org/students-teachers/student-resources/research-starters/research-starters-worldwide-deaths-world-war
Demographics of Russia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Russia
Unprecedented Migration May Be Only Chance to Beat Russia’s Population Decline https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2023/04/13/unprecedented-migration-may-be-only-chance-to-beat-russias-population-decline-study-a80813
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