Ukraine War: The Logic of Annihilation in Theory and Practice

A new study shows the dramatic decline of Ukraine’s population. Dmitry Medvedev, a leading figure of the Putin regime, propagates the corresponding ideology.

By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 10 June 2023,


The Ukrainian Institute for the Future (UIF) has recently published a new report – “New Economic Policy of Ukraine” – which shows the dramatic consequences of the war for the Ukrainian people. While the focus of the study is not of much interest – it outlines a neoliberal strategy for deregulation and long-term growth – it provides the public with interesting figures about the development of the country’s demography. [1]

According to this study, Ukraine’s population has declined to 29 million people since the beginning of the war. In 1991, when the Ukraine became an independent state, its population was 52 million. Before the beginning of the war, the population had already declined – according to different sources – to between 38 and 42 million people. And since the 24 February 2022, another 8.6 million Ukrainians fled the country. (See also Table 1 in the Appendix)

This means that the Ukraine’s population has dropped – in the years between 1991 and 2023 – by 45%, i.e. by nearly the half! (See also Table 2 in the Appendix)

Of these 29 million citizens, only 9.1-9.5 million people are employed. Another 2.5-2.9 million are unemployed, 8 million are pensioners and 4.8 million are children under the age of 15 years.

Long-term prospects are bleak given “an alarmingly low fertility rate that has fallen below 1.0 since the war started.

Add to this the gigantic destruction of the country’s infrastructure and environment – an ongoing process with unpredictable consequences for the population in the coming years and decades!


Danger of annihilation


It is obvious that the Ukraine is a country in danger of annihilation. It has lost nearly half of its population in the past three decades. Only a relatively small share of the people is employed, and the fertility rate has collapsed. Its industry has been largely destroyed – first by the consequences of neoliberal reforms and now by the ongoing war of aggression by Putin. Its agriculture and the environmental conditions in their entirety are deteriorating dramatically.

As we did show in a recently published pamphlet about the Ukraine, this process has basically two reasons. [2] First, the economic and social decline has been caused by the consequences of capitalist restoration which started in 1991. In the following decades, numerous enterprises had been closed and social security massively cut. As a result, many millions of Ukrainians left the country and became migrants in Europe. Life expectation dropped and so did the fertility rate.

As a result, the Ukraine has effectively become a capitalist semi-colony since 1991. This means that it is a country which has been oppressed and super-exploited – mainly by Western European and Russian monopolies and Great Powers. [3]

This process of annihilation accelerated dramatically since Putin’s invasion 15 months ago. This is a war aimed at making the Ukraine a colony of Russian imperialism against the background of the Great Power rivalry. [4]

As we have explained in our documents, the RCIT characterizes this conflict as one with a dual nature – at least until now. [5] Hence, socialists unreservedly condemn the reactionary invasion of Putin and support the Ukraine’s war of national defence against Russian imperialism. At the same time, we recognize that this war is combined with the accelerating rivalry between NATO and Russia. In this conflict, we support neither of the two imperialist camps. We have summarised our approach in the slogan: Defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! Beware of NATO and Zelensky – transform the resistance against the Russian occupation into a Popular War! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism! [6]


The ideology of annihilation


This horrible process of annihilation is neither a “fateful” nor an unavoidable development. It is the result of decisions made by the ruling class. In the case of the capitalist restoration, it is a process driven forward by imperialist monopolies and states – both Western as well as Eastern – in alliance with the local oligarchs. In the case of the war, it is a process driven, first and foremost, by the interests of the Putin regime to enlarge the imperialist “Russkij Mir”.

In fact, the Putin regime deliberately tries to destroy the Ukraine which is considers as an illegitimate creature in itself. As we pointed out in other works, the Kremlin denies the existence of an independent Ukrainian nation with the right of national self-determination. Putin himself stated such reactionary views in his notorious essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” published in July 2021. [7]

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and chairman of the ruling “United Russia” party, has repeated such Great Russian chauvinist ideology in several statements. In early April this year, he published an article titled "Why Ukraine will cease to exist? Because nobody needs it." It is a hotchpotch of bizarre claims and "Russkij Mir" chauvinism, all aimed at claiming that the Ukraine has no right to exist and, hence, that it deserves that its population is annihilated and expelled. [8]

In a more recent statement, Medvedev further develops such ideas of annihilating the Ukraine. “Now is the time to say how Ukraine will disappear.[9]

The deputy chairman of the Security Council outlines three possible scenarios for the destruction of the Ukraine. In the first scenario, “western Ukraine comes under the control of Poland and other states, the east becomes part of Russia. At the same time, the territory wedged between them continues to consider itself Ukraine, demands NATO membership, etc. (…) According to the second scenario, Ukraine disappears after the completion of the “Special Military Operation” in the process of its division between Russia and a number of EU states. (…) Finally, Medvedev sees the third option as the transition of western lands under the influence of European countries, and the center and east become Russia through self-determination.

He concludes his article by stating that “there are simply no other options.

At this place, it is not necessary to discuss the differences between these three scenarios contrived behind the walls of the Kremlin. The essential issue is what they have in common. And this is the explicit goal of Russian imperialism to annihilate the Ukraine as an independent country, to divide it and to occupy large parts of its territory.

Hence, it is not surprising that the Russian army tries to destroy as much infrastructure as possible and to expel as many people as possible. For these Great Russian chauvinists, “Ukraine” does not exist, and its population only deserves to live as servants of “Russkij Mir”.

Bizarrely, the Putinists and semi-Putinistas among the so-called global left support Russian imperialism claiming that the Ukraine is a “Nazi-led” state. But tell me, whose theory and practice resembles more fascism – the Ukraine which is defending its right to exist or Russia which aims to annihilate its neighbouring country?!

The Ukraine can only be free if the workers and popular masses drive out the Russian occupiers, break with Western imperialism and transform the country into an independent socialist Ukraine! It is the foremost duty of the international workers and popular movement to support their Ukrainian brothers and sisters in this struggle!




Table 1. Population of the Ukraine, in million, 1991-2023 [10]

1991      2005      2020      2023

52          47          38-42     29


Table 2. Decline of Ukraine’s Population, 1991-2023 (1991=100) [11]

1991                    2005                    2020                    2023

100                      90.3                     73.1-80.7             55.8


[1] Український Інститут Майбутнього: Нова економічна політика, 25.05.2023, A shorter version in English language can be read here: Several articles in English language reported about this studies; see e.g. Dominic Culverwell: Ukraine’s population crashes to 29mn, Uzbekistan overtakes to become fourth biggest in Eurasia, Kyiv, Intellinews, June 6, 2023,; Ukraine Business News: Ukraine’s permanent population has decreased to 29 million people, 6 June 2023,; Russia Today: Ukraine’s population close to half level of 1991 – think tank, June 6, 2023, All information and quotes are from these sources if not indicated otherwise.

[2] For a political and economic analysis of the Ukraine see e.g. the pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: Ukraine: A Capitalist Semi-Colony. On the exploitation and deformation of Ukraine’s economy by imperialist monopolies and oligarchs since capitalist restoration in 1991, January 2023,

[3] The two main works in which we deal with the theory of imperialism and its relevance for the analysis of capitalism in the 21st century are two books by Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, 2013, (henceforth referred to as “Pröbsting, 2013”); Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019,

[4] The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. The most important ones are several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021,; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014,; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014 (this pamphlet contains a document written in 2001 in which we established for the first time our characterisation of Russia as imperialist),; see also the following essays by the same author: 'Empire-ism' vs a Marxist analysis of imperialism: Continuing the debate with Argentinian economist Claudio Katz on Great Power rivalry, Russian imperialism and the Ukraine War, 3 March 2023,; Russia: An Imperialist Power or a “Non-Hegemonic Empire in Gestation”? A reply to the Argentinean economist Claudio Katz, in: New Politics, 11 August 2022, at; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022,; Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website:

[5] As we noted in recent documents, it is possible that the Ukraine’s integration (or semi-integration) in NATO could result in a modification of the character of war. See on this: RCIT: Towards a Turning Point in the Ukraine War? The tasks of socialists in the light of possible lines of development of the war of national defence in combination with the inter-imperialist Great Power rivalry, 11 March 2023,; Michael Pröbsting: Is Ukraine About to Become NATO’s “Israel” in Eastern Europe? The “Wall Street Journal” reports about plans of Western governments to transform their relationship with the Ukraine at the NATO Summit in July, 29 May 2023,

[6] We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 170 RCIT documents on the Ukraine War and the current NATO-Russia conflict are compiled: In particular we refer to the RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022,; see also: Manifesto on the First Anniversary of the Ukraine War. Victory to the heroic Ukrainian people! Defeat Russian imperialism! No support whatsoever for NATO imperialism! 10 February 2023,

[7] See on this e.g. chapter 5 (“Putin and Great Russian Chauvinism claim that the Ukraine is not an independent nation”) in our pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: Putin’s Poodles (Apologies to All Dogs). The pro-Russian Stalinist parties and their arguments in the current NATO-Russia Conflict, 9 February 2022,

[8] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Medvedev claims: “We need a Big Great Russia”. Putin’s hatchet man calls for Ukraine “to cease to exist”, 13 April 2023,; by the same author: Russia: Medvedev’s “Anti-Colonialism for Idiots”. Putin’s hatchet man cynically presents Russian imperialism as standard bearer of the Global South’s interests, 9 March 2023,

[9] Dmitry Medvedev: How Ukraine will disappear, 26.5.2023,; Medvedev told how the NWO will end in Ukraine; Eastern Herald: The Deputy Chairman of the Security Council announced three versions of the development of events and noted which one is suitable for the Kremlin, 26 May 2023, All quotes from Medvedev are from these two articles.

[10] Український Інститут Майбутнього: Нова економічна політика, 25.05.2023,; John P Ruehl: How many Ukrainian refugees will return home? January 14, 2023; World Bank: Population, total – Ukraine,

[11] Our calculation based on the figures in Table 1.