The dimensions and contours of Russia's health and demographic situation are relatively well known. Beginning in the 1960s, the Soviet Union and now Russia have experienced dramatic declines in population, fertility, and life expectancy, with parallel increases in mortality and many categories of morbidity. Most of these trends were exacerbated during the turbulent 1990s, with several important indicators still heading in a negative direction despite the country's recent relative economic prosperity.
Widespread illness and premature death represents an undeniable humanitarian disaster for Russia's people and its government. But U.S. attention to these issues should extend beyond altruistic concern for basic human needs. The quantity and quality of Russia's population in the coming decades, should current dynamics prove irreversible, will present a stark series of challenges along multiple dimensions of Russia's national security — and hence to U.S. national security as well. […]