Putin urges Russians to have more kids, says ethnic survival at stake

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 11:46 AM

(Reuters) – Russian families must produce at least two children for the sake of the nation’s ethnic survival, and three or more if it is to develop and thrive, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

Russia has suffered heavy but undisclosed casualties since launching its war in Ukraine nearly two years ago, and hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country out of opposition to the conflict or fear of being called up to fight.

Putin told employees at a tank factory in the Urals region that two children per family was the minimum number if the peoples of Russia were to preserve their identities.

“If we want to survive as an ethnic group – well, or as ethnic groups inhabiting Russia – there must be at least two children,” he said.

If each family had just one child, the population would shrink, he said. “And in order to expand and develop, you need at least three children.”

Putin declares himself a supporter of “traditional values” based on family, nation and the Orthodox Christian faith. In the course of his 24 years in power, the country has severely restricted expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity and banned the “LGBT movement” as “extremist”.

Russia suffered two decades of gradual population decline following the collapse of the Soviet Union, exacerbated by chronic problems such as alcoholism.

The state statistics bureau estimated the population at 146.4 million at the start of 2023, down from nearly 149 million 20 years earlier but up from a low of about 143 million between 2007 and 2012.

(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)