04/08/2024, 00.00
Send to a friend

The demographic decline in the Russian Far East

by Vladimir Rozansky

Over the past 20 years, the inhabitants of Siberia have decreased by 7%, and those of the Far East by 10.4%. Depopulation no longer only affects agricultural areas, but also involves medium-sized and large cities. And by 2050, the effects of climate change could further accentuate it.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Concerns are growing about the downward curve in population numbers in Russia, due to many factors, of which the war in Ukraine is one of the most disruptive in the last two years.

Faced with the promises of great economic and social development coming from the Kremlin, in particular thanks to the "turn towards the East" of national and foreign policy, the demographic crisis in Russia's Far East is even more evident, which constitutes "a threat to the security of the entire Federation", as stated in a report presented in recent days by Andrej Klepač, main economist of the Veb.Rf Institute on the topic "Organization of Russian space in the new reality".

According to the expert's observations, "Siberia and the Far East are territories that are still waiting to be populated and made their own, and if we don't do it, someone else will", alluding mainly to the Chinese and other Asians who are increasing their their migrations on these lands.

“There is a huge imbalance between the percentages of presence of the Russian population in the territories of the Federation – insists Klepač – and this is particularly evident if we compare the figures of the northern regions of China”.

There are three Chinese regions that border the Russian Far East: Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia and Jilin, which have 37.5 million, 25.5 million and 27 million inhabitants respectively. In the entire adjacent Russian part there are only 7.87 million inhabitants, according to official data from 1 January 2024, with a decrease of 37,500 compared to 2023.

This is a real demographic challenge, for which Russia must find solutions adequate responses: throughout the country the decline in the last 20 years is close to 1% of the population, over one and a half million fewer people, even taking into account the 3 million added with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In the same period of time the inhabitants of Siberia have decreased by 7%, and those of the Far East by 10.4%.

The forecasts for the near future are even more discouraging, reaching a collapse of over 10% for the entire Asian part of Russia by 2045. The depopulation process is particularly current for agricultural areas, but in recent decades it has affected the entire territory, including medium and large cities, the report reports, for which "at least another 10 million people are needed" to maintain acceptable standards of social life. Internal migrations and those more or less planned by various countries, not just China, could partly fill these gaps, but they still risk being insufficient.

A further worrying fact comes from the studies offered by the Center for interdisciplinary research on human potential of the Higher School of Economics of Moscow, analyzing climate changes by 2050, which although they may have improvements in the European part of Russia, are instead moving towards worse in several areas of Siberia and the Far East.

The increase in humidity and precipitation, together with the speed of the winds in the winter period, especially in the Baikal area and in the far-eastern South, could reduce the areas accessible to the population's life. In Yakutia and on the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, north of the part facing the Pacific Ocean, subsistence conditions will become more difficult, not to mention the lands facing the Arctic Ocean.

The entire Asian-Pacific region is growing, while the Russian side is the most limited in terms of potential for cooperation and mutual integration, facing the giants of China, Japan and South Korea.

In this phase of serious ruptures and conflicts the problem it is exacerbated by the alignments, which see Moscow allying itself with North Korea, the state most hostile to all the others. Moscow is thousands of kilometers away from these lands, and despite the proclamations of President Putin and his officials at all levels, the fate of Asia is less and less at Russia's disposal.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
For Fr Tom, abducted in Yemen, Holy Thursday prayer and adoration for the martyrs
21/03/2016 14:57
Church leads the way in helping Vietnam cope with its educational emergency
11/03/2016 17:00
Catholic music to promote dialogue in Ambon, the city of sectarian violence
17/10/2018 13:29
More migrants drown off Yemen’s coast
11/08/2017 20:05


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”