This is yet another question that excites much heated commentary in the “Ukraine debates.”
There is a “school” of thought amongst the more ideological Russophiles that the Ukraine has completely emptied out. Here is an article by Andrey Fomin in which he argues that it only has 22-24 million people versus the official figure of 42 million. This article is typical of the “genre”.
I debunked such ridiculously low estimates in my “Ukrotriumph” article from last year.
Even so, while the Ukraine has more than 24 million people, it is still way short of 42 million. But by how much?
- The official Ukrainian figures exclude Crimea, but include all of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts (including those controlled by the LDNR).
- The official population of the LDNR is around 3.8M – let’s consider it to be 3.5M in practice.
- There are approximately 5M Ukrainians temporarily or permanently abroad at any given time (as will be reflected in the next Census in 2020).
So my best guess is that the real population of the Ukraine is currently around 33.5M (official: 42.0M).
More recently, Dean Fantazzini – an economist at Moscow State University – estimated the Ukraine’s population to be 32.0M on the basis of regression of birth data for east and central Europe. As he notes, Igor Kolomoysky recently made the exact same estimate.
The blogger acer120 estimates 32.0-32.5M based on voter rolls.
Incidentally, commenter AP estimates that Ukraine’s real population is 35.0M. So we can see a pretty good convergence of estimates from people all across the ideological spectrum.
For comparison, Russia’s real population is around 150.1M (official: 146.8M). Perhaps the one bright spot (from Russia’s POV) in post-Soviet relations between the two countries is that its population advantage over the Ukraine has increased from less than 3:1 in 1992 (148.5M to 52.1) to almost 5:1 today (146.9M to ~33M). It is ironic that Ukrainian independence has been worse for Ukraine’s population balance vis-a-vis Russia than anything that Lazar Kaganovich and the Nazis did.