Putin: Russia's population could have been 500 million people

The possibility of Russian population reaching 500 million people, which Russian president Vladimir Putin voiced during the "Direct Line" in June, continues to be on Putin’s mind.

On Wednesday, September 1, at a meeting with schoolchildren at the All-Russian Children's Center "Ocean", Putin said that the population of Russia could have been about half a billion, if it had not been for the shocks of the XX century.

Over the past century, Russian statehood has crumbled twice, the president told schoolchildren, stressing that he does not consider himself a historian and therefore would prefer to call his speech not a lesson, but a conversation.

“After the 1917 revolution, the Russian Empire ceased to exist, and the country "lost colossal territories, gradually recovered, and then there was also the collapse of the Soviet Union," Putin said.

Now the population of Russia is about 146 million people, Putin stated.

"And if these tragedies had not happened, there would have been about 500 million people. Is there a difference?" Putin asked a rhetorical question and, without receiving an answer, continued: the population is "the total power of the state, which is exponentially increasing," creating "more and more powerful foundation for development, existence, well-being."

"In no case should we allow anything like this in the future," Putin said, adding that knowledge of history helps to understand how to strengthen the power of the country and how to build relations with neighbors.

According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, Rosstat, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia had 148.5 million people. By the early 2000s, this number had dropped to 146.8 million, and by 2009 it had reached a minimum in the country's modern history of 142.7 million.

Then, for five years, the population slowly increased during the "fat 2010s" when oil was above $100 per barrel. By 2014, 143.6 million people permanently lived in the Russian Federation.

By January 2018, the population of the Russian Federation reached 146.88 million people, after which it began to decline again - to 146.78 million for January-2019, 146.74 million - for January-2020 and 146.17 million - for January-2021.

At the same time, over the past five years, the population has been almost unchanged exclusively supported by the influx of migrants. Mortality exceeded the birth rate, generating a natural decline that accelerated each year.

In 2016, it amounted to 2.2 thousand people, in 2017 - 135.8 thousand people, in 2018 - 224.5 thousand people, in 2019 - 317.2 thousand people, and in 2020 - a record for 15 years 702 thousand people.

In total, in the seven years since the annexation of Crimea, Russia has lost about 1.4 million people as a result of natural decline.

  Putin, Rosstat