Russian President Vladimir Putin has reinstituted a national decree — "Mother Heroine" — promising financial incentives for Russian women who "birth and raise" at least 10 children.
The reward of 1 million Russian rubles, which is more than $16,000, kicks in when the 10th natural-born child celebrates his or her first birthday.
The decree also states that eligible recipients will receive a five-pointed golden star medal, commemorating the mother's commitment to replenishing Russia's population.
There are two caveats to the "Mother Heroine" program, which the Soviets first implemented from 1944-91: All children must be alive on the 10th child's first birthday, unless they were killed while performing military or civil service or died in a terrorist attack.
And every child must be in reasonably good health, in terms of demonstrating an "appropriate level of care" for educational, physical, moral, and spiritual development.
Russia's overall population has been on the decline in recent years. The country's "working-age population" has also diminished every year since 2010, citing U.N. data.
According to MacroTrends.net, Russia has a current birth rate of 11.617 births per 1,000 people, a 2.42% decline from 2021.
The March of Dimes organization says, "It's best to wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again" — also known as pregnancy spacing.
"This means your baby will be at least 1 1/2 years old before you get pregnant with another baby. This much time gives your body time to fully recover from your last pregnancy before it's ready for your next pregnancy," the organization advises.
That would require about a 16.5-year commitment — from beginning to end — to bear the 10th child.
Rebekah Koffler, a former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer focused on Russia and the author of "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America," recently told Fox News that she remembers the "Mother Heroine" title as a young girl growing up in the Soviet Union.
Back then, Kremlin officials were intent on replenishing "the population lost during World War II, the famine and [Joseph] Stalin's purges."
"Putin is reviving this Soviet-era tactic to offset the impact of his war on Ukraine, in which thousands of young, child-producing-age men are dying," Koffler said.
She added, "But the truth is no rational young woman will have 10 children in Russia. First, the economic conditions don't allow this; there's no culture of having so many children. Since religion was outlawed in the USSR, the religious groups, like Catholics, who would otherwise have many children, do not."
A decade ago, Putin also got creative with Russia's repopulation efforts, said Koffler, introducing a holiday called "National Conception Day" (Sept. 12, 2007), which allowed Russian citizens to solely focus on conceiving a child for that 24-hour period.
"None of these methods have fully resolved the demographic crisis in Russia, where the total fertility rate is 1.824 births per woman, which is below the replacement level of 2.2," Koffler said.
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