(RepublicanReport.org) – Russian leader Vladimir Putin hasn’t been having a great year. His army is bogged down in Ukraine, it’s suffered massive casualties and stocks of weapons are running low, while Western sanctions hammer his country’s economy. Now the Kremlin strongman is faced with a new problem; Russia is running out of workers.
Russia Suffering Worst Labor Shortage in 25 Yearshttps://t.co/1XktLBYRqx
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 25, 2023
With Russia’s regular army devastated by losses in Ukraine, last September, Putin started mobilizing reservists to fill holes in the ranks. Over 300,000 people have been ordered into the army so far, taking them out of the labor force. Worse, there are reports — denied by the Kremlin — that at least 700,000 more Russian men have left the country to avoid being forced to fight. Between the dead, draftees, and those who have fled, a significant percentage of Russia’s working-age population has vanished. Now, Putin is struggling to find replacements.
Russian newspapers have been warning for months that many industries can’t find workers. In a desperate attempt to boost the labor force, the government has scrapped quotas on migrant workers from Uzbekistan. Around 11,000 Uzbeks were allowed to enter Russia to work in construction and agriculture; now, Putin has thrown the gates open. The problem is, not many want to come. Last year only 4,500 Uzbeks went to work in Russia, a fraction of what the country needs. With the country’s economy already struggling, there’s little incentive for more to follow them.
So far, the worst affected sectors are light industry, machine-building, and farming, with up to 70% shortfalls in some industries. The question is, can Putin fix it? So far, the Ukraine war has mostly been fought with 1980s-vintage Soviet weapons on both sides. Now Russia, its tank fleet decimated by combat, is digging out ancient T-55s from storage — as Ukraine prepares to unleash its new force of modern M1 Abrams, Challenger 2s and Leopard 2s. If Putin continues to throw men into the meat grinder with 60-year-old equipment, Russian casualties are going to get much, much worse. Sometime soon, he’s likely to face a grim choice; abandon the war, or watch his economy collapse from lack of labor.
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