THE TRAGEDY OF THIS WAR
For the last year, the world has been flooded with news of the impending and now the actual war of Russia against Ukraine. While numbers are incomplete, I estimate there have been at least 100,000 soldiers and civilians killed and many times that wounded and sickened. Then there are the large numbers (900,000 to 1.6 million) of Ukrainians who have been involuntarily deported by the Russians from the territory of Ukraine and sent to faraway places in the Russian Federation, including Siberia. Last week, 60,000 were “evacuated” from Kherson to other Russian-controlled areas. This tactic was a favorite of Stalin’s. It is a war crime by international law.
At one point, 14.3 million Ukrainians had sought safety in Europe and beyond. Since then, about 6 million have returned for a net outmigration of 8 million from Ukraine. Thousands of Russians left in the Spring. Then in record numbers, hundreds of thousands of men fled Putin’s “partial mobilization” in September and October.
Hundreds of billions of dollars of destruction of buildings and infrastructure have been wreaked upon Ukraine by Russian missiles. Both sides have used up hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and equipment, which will be replaced. The OECD has estimated that Russia’s war against Ukraine will cost the world economy $2.8 trillion.
The magnitude of the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and atrocities inflicted by the Russians on the Ukrainians, can hardly be appreciated, much less calculated.
THE OTHER TRAGEDY
The dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991 accelerated the rapid decline of Russia economically, demographically, and spiritually. There was a brief interval of relative freedom from 1991-1995. Beginning in about 1995, Russia went back to its old ways of corruption, dictatorship, and alcoholism. The total Russian population of 144,711,268 had been declining for years. Life expectancy in Russia for men is only 66.49 years, for women, 76.43 years. The Russian fertility rate before the war was 1.4 children per adult woman. To keep a stable population over the long term, a fertility rate of 2.1 is necessary. Russia is gradually committing demographic suicide.
Ukraine had some of the same problems, including an even lower fertility rate of 1.2 and corruption, but with substantially more political and religious freedom. At the start of the war, Ukraine’s population was about 43,733,762. By now, its population is around 35 million.
Living under the banner of religious freedom was possible in Russia in 1991. That year some Russian parliamentarians came to North Carolina to study what religious freedom could look like. More recently, however, the dark cloud of corruption and despair has descended over the Russian Orthodox Church as it hooked its fortunes to Putin. Its leader recently proclaimed that Russians who die in battle against Ukraine would have all their sins forgiven. This doctrine of works is a repudiation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Although Russia has been impoverished by its own war, it has gained population! How? The number it has deported from Ukraine to Russia exceed the number Russia lost in battle and the number of those who fled.
Before the war, Ukraine was known as the “breadbasket” of Europe. And Russia is one of the world’s foremost exporters of grain. No one has yet discerned a rational reason why Putin started this war. Could it be that Putin’s war was a play for the population to serve in its factories and harvest crops? Putin wants to restore the Russian Empire. That requires a return to serfdom as under the Tsars.
Paul Stam practices law in Apex. For more information, see www.paulstam.info.