OREANDA-NEWS. In 2018, Russia’s migrant numbers have reduced to the lowest amount in the period after break-up of the USSR. For the first time in a decade, migration has been unable to equalize population decline in the country.

The annual need of population increase to reach net-zero growth is for up to 300,000 while only 124,900 foreigners arrived in Russia in 2018, according to research from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) Institute of Social Analysis and Forecast. It should be remembered that in RANEPA investigation migrants are counted in accordance with expired temporary registration slips, instead of those who have really departed from the country.

Arrivals declined by 4 percent while departures rocketed by 16.9 percent in Russia in 2018. The biggest declines of newcomers were from Ukraine and Uzbekistan, which were Russia’s largest migrant-donors lately.

From April till December arrival values were almost half of those registered in the respective periods of the previous year.

Nikita Mkrtchyan, a researcher at RANEPA’s Social Analysis And Forecast Institute predicted that migration in Russia may increase in 2019 but it will still miss the 200,000 level.

RANEPA’s joint research with the Moscow Higher School of Economics indicates that migrants from Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are migrating West instead of Russia more and more.

The growing economies of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, also former migrant-donor countries, are competing with Russia for migrants from Central Asian republics nowadays.

Russia could recruit from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and the Middle East – but has little experience with mass migration from countries with “such a large ethnocultural gap”, the aforementioned joint research says.