Russian President Vladimir Putin is urging Russians to have more children.
"Large families must become the norm," Putin said in a speech Tuesday.
Russian birth rates are falling amid war in Ukraine and a deepening economic crisis.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is urging women to have as many as eight children as the number of dead Russian soldiers continues to rise in his war with Ukraine, worsening the country's population crisis.
Addressing the World Russian People's Council in Moscow on Tuesday, Putin said the country must return to a time when large families were the norm.
"Many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had seven, eight, or even more children," Putin said.
"Let us preserve and revive these excellent traditions. Large families must become the norm, a way of life for all of Russia's people. The family is not just the foundation of the state and society; it is a spiritual phenomenon, a source of morality."
"Preserving and increasing the population of Russia is our goal for the coming decades and even generations ahead. This is the future of the Russian world, the millennium-old, eternal Russia," Putin continued.
Putin's remarks come amid decades of falling birth rates in Russia that its invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent economic fallout have only made worse.
The war in Ukraine has caused an estimated 900,000 people to flee the country. A further 300,000 people have been enlisted to fight in Ukraine, deepening Russia's workforce crisis. A statistical analysis conducted by the Russian media outlets Mediazona and Meduza in July said about 50,000 Russian men were believed to have died in the war in Ukraine.
In October, the UK's Ministry of Defence reported that Russia has probably amassed up to 290,000 killed or wounded soldiers in the war against Ukraine.
Since coming into power 24 years ago, Putin has tried to boost Russia's birthrate by introducing a range of government incentives for those who have children, including payouts for families who have more than one child.
But the measures have had little to no impact, with figures from Rosstat, Russia's federal statistics service, putting the Russian population at 146,447,424 as of January 1, lower than it was in 1999 when Putin first became president, Le Monde reported.
"Russia lacks workers," Alexei Raksha, a demographer who previously worked at Rosstat, told AFP in February.
"It's an old problem, but it has gotten worse due to mobilization and mass departures," he said.
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty reported in 2020 that some Russians had said the economic help the government had pledged for large families, such as plots of land, never materialized.
Putin himself is rumored to have more than four children, though he has never publicly discussed this.
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