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Great Power Suicide

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Lattanzio and Stevens run the numbers…

Through open source information on the costs of health care and the state of the Russian medical system, alongside historical scholarship and medical publications, we examine the crushing economic damage of the war on Russia from the lens of military personnel. We conclude that the state is logistically, fiscally, and culturally unprepared for the tremendous burden of supporting veterans and their families, presenting serious questions about state capacity going forward.

Above all else, the Russian state has to financially support the families of fallen soldiers in perpetuity. Many of the wounded (to say nothing of the dead) will permanently be out of the workforce, and even those who return to it will require lifelong mental and physical health care. And the numbers of dead or wounded servicemembers will only worsen the negative demographic trends in Russia. These challenges will grow larger as the war continues and the bodies pile up.

I got into a bit of a brawl on X today over the question of Ukraine and NATO, but one point on which I’ll agree with my interlocutor is that Russia will not be capable of significantly threatening its NATO neighbors for the foreseeable future. The fight over the future of Ukraine is just that; a fight over the future of Ukraine. Putin is rapidly destroying Russia’s future, regardless of how much of Ukraine he’s able to hold onto…

… because this has now come up a bunch of times in the comments; yes, it is definitely possible (even likely) that Russia will renege on the extensive promises that it has made to the Russian people in order to maintain recruiting numbers. However, such a reneging will carry substantial costs of its own for the future stability of the Russian state. People will be pissed when they learn that the Kremlin won’t actually pay the pensions that were promised. It’s a no win situation.

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