For any leader thinking about global expansion, one key thing can never be forgotten: maintaining the status quo at home. The inability to govern the homeland while growing a nation has caused the downfall of historical conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte. And as Vladimir Putin increasingly looks to flex Russia's muscles in Eastern Europe, he must not forget about the problems Russia's already facing.
While it would be easy to cherry-pick a country's problems (one could easily pick out America's troubling statistics on gun control, incarceration, income inequality and death penalty), Russia is undoubtedly dealing with serious public health and economic issues, which are being exacerbated by further military expenditure and the recent Crimean invasion. Here are a few problems that Putin might want to address before trying to redraw his borders.
The main cause of death of death is excessive drinking; among men who drank three or more half-liter bottles of vodka a week, 35% were expected to die before age 55.
In the past 20 years, the Russian population shrank from 148 million to 143 million. If the trend continues, there may only be 107 million people living in Russia by 2050. Last year alone, 2,500 more people died than were born.
Over 2.5 million Russian use drugs, and 90% of them are hooked on Afghan heroin. Ever year, Russia imports around 70 tons of heroin — more than a fifth of the global supply.
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Among the world's top 20 economies, Russia is only second to India — which has a population nine times larger than Russia's — in terms of the number of people living with HIV. More than 20% of the world's drug users with HIV live in Russia. By 2020, the country is estimated to lose 20,000 people a month to AIDS.