Concerning that Peter Zeihan video about Russia and Ukraine…


… that I posted last week:  it was an hour long, so I know many readers didn’t have the time to watch it.

Thanks to CDR Salamander, we find a shortened, 12-minute video from Mr. Zeihan, looking at the Ukraine war and its implications for Russia, today and in the future.  It distills the essence of last week’s video into a compact discussion, making it more accessible.  I highly recommend watching it, even if you watched last week’s longer video.  There’s some additional material in this one that makes it very interesting – for example, current Russian emigration patterns since the start of the war.

The short-and-sweet summary is, Russia is caught between a demographic rock and a geopolitical hard place.  It has to win in Ukraine, or decline into irrelevance as a former superpower – probably to become little more than a Chinese vassal state, in due course losing its eastern provinces, including Siberia, to that nation.

Unfortunately, that means Russia probably won’t be giving up and withdrawing from Ukraine, because it can’t afford to do that.  This conflict may drag on for years.



  1. The problem is that, by invading Ukraine, Russia has put itself in a position where it may end up having to become a Chinese vassal state because it has no other options whether or not it "wins" or loses, since Ukraine actually has a lower birthrate than Russia does. Before the pro-Russian commenters get smug about this, however, let me point out that the last time anyone checked, ethnic Russians had the second-lowest birthrate in Russia, behind even the Ukrainians and Germans, and I suspect that the same trend is true in Ukraine, thereby meaning that if Putin somehow manages to bring Ukraine into the Russian fold he will have brought in a population that will be exceedingly restless and will be declining at a slower rate than their new overlords whose efforts at integration and assimilation, assuming they make any, will likely backfire. This is not a recipe for Ukraine being a net asset to Russia.

    This invasion is worse than a crime (though it is that). It is a mistake.

  2. I made it about halfway through. I cannot take this fellow too seriously. He's parroting some Western propaganda talking points.

    – I know many Russians over the past twenty years. Many still there. They are some of the best educated and intelligent people I've met. Some have left. For Five Eyes states, but plenty have stayed, and have no intention of leaving.

    – I seriously doubt the casualty rate as being pumped out by the West. I'd be shocked if it was much past 7-10k actual Russian troops. Many do not realize much of the actual fighting is being done by DPR and pro Russia militia troops in much of the eastern regions. These are people that have been fighting against Ukranian nationalists (including Asoz) since the color revolution in 2014.

    But he certainly does have some valid points about the demographics if Russia. Of course the same could be said of most of the rest of the world. Including the US, Western Europe, even China. People in those countries are not having kids. And COVID (disease and injections) seem to have accelerated that trend.

    I'm expecting data to come out this next year that will floor people in the know on what has happened to the total fertility rate world wide. I doubt even India will be at replenishment levels. But guess who is still having kids? Many African countries, and predominantly Islamic based cultures. The world is going to be a VERY different place in about 30 years…

  3. I've read Zeihan's book "Disunited Nations" and I watched the video. I respect his approach to demographics and geography. They are valid factors. But he has a blind spot a mile wide with respect to technology and economics.

    To say Russia can't exploit its oil fields without western help is pure ignorance. Russia is a space power. Its oil business is older than that of the US. It is one of three countries that can make good jet turbines. It has a huge metals industry. It is perfectly capable of exploiting its oil fields. I know – I was in the international oil business for 32 years as an engineer.

    Zeihan's other blind spot relates to culture. He equates all young people together economically. There is a huge difference between the cadre of 21 yo trade and college graduate boomers in industrial America of the 70s, and 21 yo illegals and college grad zoomers in post industrial America. Many countries have the STEM graduation rate of America with half the population, such as Russia. America's culture has changed, and not for the better, even if demographically we have more young people than some countries.

    Zeihan also fails to recognize that the US exports two things: weapons that don't work, like Patriot and F35, and debt. In everything else except agriculture, other countries have competitive advantages over the US. I expect as the US petrodollar begins to lose some influence and alternatives rise, the US will have to unleash its farm power on the rest of the world, both to feed its own population and to have a real world export that the rest of the world will be willing to pay for.

    I recommend reading "Disintegration: Indicators of the Coming American Collapse" by Andrei Martyanov if you want a detailed assessment of the many areas where the US has real shortcomings. In any case I suspect we'll have a major recession by 2023.

  4. As I said before, Zeihan is really good on demographic and logistics issues. This video of his is 100% spot on. His books are also quite good. I've read all three of them.

    The problem I have with Zeihan is his political views are completely contradictory to everything he has written in his books and said in his videos. This cognitive dissidence destroys a lot of his credibility with me and makes me wonder why he is making and pushing his stuff in the first place. I recently submitted a comment about this (which I have reposted to this blog in an earlier comments thread). I have yet to receive any response from Zeihan.

    I DID get a response from my representative (republican lady) who was totally on-board with what I wrote.

    The other problem I have with Zeihan is his belief that the rest of the world are so psychotic that they are not capable of engaging in peaceful economic development without the tutelage of the U.S, being the benign global cop. I think Xeihan underestimates the fortitude of many non-Americans.

  5. The granddaddy of "demographics is destiny" is Gunnar Heinsohn (used to teach at NATO College in Europe). Many of his articles have been published in English … they make for grim reading.

  6. My alternative conclusion to yours, Peter, is that Russia – and Vladimir Putin personally – needs to arguably "defeat" the Azov units in Mariupol and declare "Victory!" Soonest! This will leave Russia in actual or effective control of the petroleum-rich eastern regions of the former Ukraine, along with the never-in-doubt retention of Crimea and its naval port of Sebastopol.

    My public prediction is that something effectively like this will happen before the end of April. I have been wrong before, but events seem to be unfolding in this general direction, so I remain hopeful.

    Peace may not actually be at hand, but an end to this example of open combat may.

  7. Thank you for this Peter! I missed the longer post and I’ll have to go back and watch it. That 12 minutes was a bit eye opening to say the least. My eyes were opened to this kind of demographic implosion some years back by a youtube channel called “Whatifalthist” by a young historian who has been saying this in just about every video for some years now. He does mainly questions on different outcomes and permutations of history that may have been.

    Probably the number one of course being “Germany wins WWII” or Japan or etc etc. And has brought up the economic and populations that were vs each other at those times. One comment that sticks out was about how “If every Japanese admiral had been a Yamamoto, they’d have still lost” etc.

    I’ll have to go back and watch that hour long one as well. Bloody good find sir.

    Thank you other commenters for good info on this gent at the same time.

  8. Russian Birth rates are or were if they dropped very recently on par with those in Europe these days.

    US birth rates are in the tank and the only reason we have population increase is an immigrant invasion which is more destructive than decline.

    Now China has people now but they have a situation where the population there may halve by 2060 or earlier and there isn't much impetuous for a rebound.

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