Demographic Shifts Could Radicalize Russia

Experts say changes could lead to social strife, sectarian conflict

Experts said Wednesday that a myriad of demographic, social, and economic problems could transform Russia into a virtually unrecognizable country in just a couple of decades that is more harmful to U.S. and Western interests.

As Russia’s native population shrinks, incorporates more Muslim immigrants, and remains tightly controlled by President Vladimir Putin, it risks social strife and sectarian conflict, said Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council and a former CIA and Department of Defense consultant, during a panel event at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The country’s shrinking population is largely a result of declining fertility, high mortality rates, a surge in divorce rates and abortions, an AIDS “epidemic” stemming from rampant heroin use, and emigration, said Berman, author of the new book, Implosion: The End of Russia and What it Means for America. Continue reading

France’s Le Monde says chemical weapons used in Syria

Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have repeatedly used chemical weapons against rebel fighters in Damascus, according to first-hand accounts in France’s Le Monde newspaper.

The newspaper, in a report issued on its website on Monday, said one of its photographers had suffered blurred vision and respiratory difficulties for four days after an attack on April 13 on the Jobar front, just inside central Damascus. Continue reading