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Putin brings back Stalin-era award for mothers who have 10 children as population declines and Russia suffers heavy losses in Ukraine

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/17/2022 insider@insider.com (John Haltiwanger)
Russian President Vladimir Putin stands near a flag with portraits of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin while visiting a factory in Ivanovo, Russia, on March 6,2020. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images © Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin stands near a flag with portraits of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin while visiting a factory in Ivanovo, Russia, on March 6,2020. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
  • Putin brought back a Soviet-era award for mothers who give birth to 10 kids.
  • It provides financial incentives to have more children.
  • Russia's population has been declining for years, and its military has suffered heavy losses in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin restored an award first introduced by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin that's designed to encourage women to have more children, The Moscow Times reported. The news comes as Russia's population declines and its military suffers heavy losses in Ukraine.

The "Mother Heroine" award was established by Stalin in 1944 during the tailend of World War II, when the Soviet Union lost an estimated 26 million people. 

The title will be awarded to women who give birth to 10 or more children. According to a decree Putin signed on Monday, those who qualify will be granted an award of one million rubles (roughly $16,000) after their tenth child turns one, the Times said. 

Russia's population has been steadily declining for decades, and that trend that appears to have gotten worse in recent years.

Between January and May, the Russian population shrank at a record rate of 86,000 people a month, The Moscow Times reported in July, citing state statistics agency Rosstat. Between October 2020 and September 2021, the Russian population declined by 997,000, which was largely due to COVID-19, per an analysis from demographer Alexei Raksha. This marked the largest recorded peacetime population decline in Russian history. 

Putin has said before that Russia's dwindling population "haunts" him. 

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the Russian population was roughly 148.3 million, per the World Bank. In 2022, it stands at 145.1 million, the Times reported last month.

The decree reviving the award, which follows an earlier move to honor mothers who have more than seven children, made no mention of the war in Ukraine, according to The Washington Post, but the timing is noteworthy given Russian losses.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon said it estimated that roughly 80,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine since Moscow launched the unprovoked war in late February.

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said that the figure was "pretty remarkable considering that the Russians have achieved none of Vladimir Putin's objectives at the beginning of the war."

Russia failed to take Kyiv in the early days of the war, and it has since focused much of its energy on Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

The Russian military has only made incremental progress in recent months, and there are signs that Ukraine is beginning or on the verge of a counteroffensive in the south. Recent reports suggest that Ukraine was behind a series of attacks over the past week on Russian military installations in Crimea, a region that was previously thought to be out of the reach of Ukrainian forces. 

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