Russia’s Brain Drain Is Helping Putin

Russia’s Brain Drain Is Helping Putin
People walk next to their cars as they wait to cross the border into Kazakhstan at the Mariinsky border crossing, south of Chelyabinsk, Russia, Sept. 27, 2022 (AP photo).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine predictably triggered a massive exodus of Ukrainian refugees from the warzone. But beyond the battlefields and far from the civilian areas that came under assault in the military onslaught launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, another mass migration began almost immediately after the start of the war. As Putin cracked down on dissent at home, Russians opposed to the war—and to their president—started leaving the country in large numbers.

The outflows from Russia are much smaller than the huge refugee movement from Ukraine. After all, the invasion last February created the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, with more than 18 million Ukrainians fleeing when the fighting started. Many have since returned, but today more than 8 million remain scattered across Europe, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. That’s almost 20 percent of Ukraine’s prewar population.

By contrast, the number of people who fled Russia is variously estimated between 500,000 and 1 million. Although the number could be much higher, proportionally it’s a much smaller number than for Ukraine. And yet, it is an exodus with major political implications.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review