Disastrous depopulation of Ukraine

Ukraine’s population is dwindling at a rate that puts the survival of this country in question – and not just since the war.

Peter Hanseler


The population decline in Ukraine can only be described with the adjective “catastrophic”. 

However, to justify this solely with the war, and thus once again to put the blame on Russia or President Putin, falls short of the mark.

“Das war ein Bevölkerungsschwund von 14 Millionen bzw. 27 Prozent in dreissig Jahren.”

In this essay, we reveal facts and look for the real reasons behind this development that threatens the very existence of the country.


Total population

In 1992, Ukraine had a population of just under 52 million people – this was one year after Ukraine was founded in August 1991. 

Since then, the population has been on the decline. Thirty years later, in 2020, an electronic census was conducted, which came up with a population of 38 million people. 

That was a population loss of 14 million or 27 percent in thirty years.

The following graphs show how dramatic the situation is overall. The first shows the development from 1950 to 2014, the other the development since 1920 with a forecast until 2030:

Especially the development after 2013 is without precedent.

Latest figures show that since the beginning of the war about 8 million have fled Ukraine towards Europe, about 800,000 towards the USA and more than 3 million towards Russia. That is another 12 million people who have left Ukraine. 

This results in today’s population of no more than 26 million. There are voices – for example, the American geopolitician Douglas Macgregor – who assume that it is even only 20 million, if you subtract the population of the four regions – Lugansk, Donetsk, Saparoshe and Kherson, which today belong to Russia.

Ukrainian population in Russia

According to the website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about 10 million Ukrainians were living in Russia at the end of 2019. 

Since this figure is from before the war, one must add the three million Ukrainians who have emigrated to Russia since the war. 

Thus, about 13 million Ukrainians live in Russia today. With a total population of Russia of about 145 million, this amounts to 9% of Russia’s population.

Brief analysis

Ökonomische Gründe

One of the main reasons why many Ukrainians leave their homeland is certainly economic. Salaries and pensions in Russia are about three times higher in Russia. In 2018, for example, a teacher received a pension of about €50 per month after more than 40 years of professional activity in Ukraine. 

In this point, the negative development after 2013 is also clear. The following graph shows the nominal wage development in blue and the minimum wage development in red in the period from January 2014 to August 2015. Note: In the case of the nominal wage, the average fell by more than half and the pensions were cut in thirds.

This was not always the case, by the way. In 1991, incomes in Ukraine were higher than in Russia, which was also clearly reflected in demographic trends. Ukraine has thus managed to drive its economy to the wall since independence. 

The following figures speak for themselves:

Comparison of average income Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine:

By purchasing power parity, the comparison Russia – Ukraine by 2018 looks as follows (source is the statistical offices of both countries according to coefficients of the World Bank): 

Rot: Russland; Gelb: Ukraine

The main reason for the poor economic development is probably the fact that the ruling oligarch caste in Ukraine has been gutting the economy for over 30 years. 

Russia had the same problem from 1991 until President Putin was elected. However, he banned the oligarchs from politics shortly after taking office. With very good results. The economy in Russia is doing very well and the corruption problem in Russia has become much smaller. Compared to Ukraine, conditions are paradisiacal.

“The West’s view of life in Ukraine could not be more wrong.”

Returning after the war?

Now, one could argue that the 12 million who left the country due to the war will return after the cessation of hostilities. 

However, in a radio interview with Ukrainian Radio, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ilva Johansson, said the following:

“Almost all refugees, if you ask them, will say that they want to return. As far as I know, this is characteristic of all refugees – they all want to return home as soon as possible. However, experience shows that most of them stay (in the host country).”


Political reasons

The West’s view of life in Ukraine could not be more wrong. 

The image that Ukraine presents of itself and its leaders is purely for show, which has nothing to do with reality. 

President Zelensky had devastating approval ratings even before the war – around 15%. As a result, he closed down all media outlets that did not strictly proclaim the propaganda of the state, many journalists were arrested or disappeared. Next year’s elections will certainly not take place, as President Zelensky would not be re-elected under any circumstances. 

A large part of the billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine is seeping away through corruption, as are the weapons, which are offered on the black market. 

The main reason for the large number of Ukrainians in Russia is quickly found. Apart from the economic reasons mentioned above, there is no language barrier – all Ukrainians speak Russian. By the way, President Selensky speaks Russian much better than Ukrainian for the simple reason that Russian is his native language. So he bans his native language in his home country – is that cynical or perverse?

“If they can, people vote with their feet.”

The Russians do not persecute Ukrainians in any way, but have always welcomed them. 


If Ukraine were as described by the West – a sovereign, democratic society – this great country would be a country of immigration due to its natural riches and nature and would not have lost 62% of its population since its creation in 1991. 

If Russia were an unjust state ruled by a war-obsessed psychopath, over 13 million Ukrainians would not be living happily in Russia.

If they can, people vote with their feet.

Disastrous depopulation of Ukraine

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