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As Russian forces continue their retreat on the battlefield in Ukraine, Moscow has turned to attacking stationary civilian targets that don't shoot back. It's pathetic. And Russia's failure to intimidate Ukraine through wanton destruction can be seen in the flow of the two peoples.

Ukrainians who left are flooding back into their country, while young Russians head to the exits in extraordinary numbers. Over the long run, the loss of draft-age men, especially educated ones, could pose a greater threat to Russian power than declaring victory and withdrawing.

"Demography is destiny," the French philosopher Auguste Comte famously said. A country's people as measured by numbers, age and educational level is said to be the fuel that powers civilizations. Russia is losing on all three counts.

Even before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was facing a collapse in population as fertility rates cratered. Among Vladimir Putin's delusions was the belief that his government could encourage more births and at the same time send potential fathers to the frontlines as cannon fodder.

A report by the United Nations sees Russia's population falling by roughly 2 million by 2030. And it came out before Putin's mass mobilization. Many will die on the battlefield or be gravely wounded. And having one's man sent off to war is not conducive to planning a family.

Then there is the rush to the border. The first escapees tended to be Russians repelled by the unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

These were generally the educated elite every country should want to keep. The draft now has less political Russians looking for an out. They're going to Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Argentina, Western Europe. Others have gone into hiding.

In Moscow, it's like COVID, Part II. After a summer during which the apolitical youth partied like there was no war, banks started closing hundreds of branches. Storefront windows are being papered over. And Moscow has become a city of women. Dating apps in countries where Russian men have fled, meanwhile, are doing big business.

When Russia first invaded, Israel assumed it would be processing a lot of Ukrainians. To its surprise, it has been receiving a surge of Russians instead.

By contrast, Ukraine is seeing a rush of women and their children back into the country. They want to be reunited with their husbands who stayed behind to fight. Another motivation is guilt at not taking part in the momentous defense of Ukraine, according to reports.

Can you imagine the emotional pull required to return to a country that has just seen 30% of its power grid knocked out? And right before the start of winter?

A very recent Gallup poll has 70 percent of Ukrainians wanting to continue the fight until they win. And of that majority, 91 percent define victory and taking back every scrap of land Russia as seized, including Crimea, which Moscow "annexed" in 2014.

A woman in Kherson told the BBC's World Service that she was not going anywhere until Kherson was liberated by Ukrainian troops: "People are not panicking, nobody wants to be evacuated."

A desperate Putin has imposed martial law in the four Ukrainian regions he claims to have annexed: Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. He's called for "heightened readiness" in Moscow, a decree that can include vehicle searches and traffic restrictions. The mayor of Moscow tries to reassure his public, insisting that none of this will "restrict the normal rhythm of life." Too late for that.

American fans of the authoritarian Putin should take note: He is bringing defeat upon his own country, not to mention disgrace. A demographic winter is upon Russia, and Russian winters are famous for their brutality.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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