Falling fertility is hatching a crisis for Putin | Comment

Hhow do you get a modern, comfortable society fueled for a fight? All Vladimir Putin can come up with is a call for the Great Patriotic War against Hitler, a moment of mass mobilization and sacrifice. But that heroic imagery will no longer be for the youth of Russia. Now he is facing a recruitment crisis for a war of attrition in Ukraine which he still pretends is an in-out operation against a very inferior enemy.

Since the public outcry at the slaughter of the first Chechen war, Russia has banned the deployment of young recruits on the battlefield. When called up for a year of military service, most 18- to 27-year-olds calculate that they will not see a gun fired in anger. That

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