Russia's population declined by more than one million people in 2021. The new figures continue a downward trend from the previous year when Russia's population fell by more than half a million.
Birth rates have been falling because the generation now becoming parents were born in the 1990s when the birth rate plunged due to economic uncertainties after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The number of births per woman stands at around 1.5, well short of the minimum of 2.1 necessary to renew the population.
The government has introduced a number of financial incentives for parents with more than one child, such as cash bonuses and favourable mortgage rates.
Last December, Putin stressed that 146 million people are not enough for the country from a "geopolitical standpoint" and leave labour shortages.
"The demographic crisis is definitely a failure of the state's policies," said Sergei Zakharov, a demography expert at the Higher School of Economics based in Moscow. He said that measures to increase the birth rate encourage families to have children earlier but do not change how many children they want in total, adding that the government's influence on birth rates is "limited" and shifting births to an earlier period will result in a "demographic gap" in the future.
For Stepan Goncharov of the independent Levada Centre pollster, the low birth rate is connected to widespread "uncertainty about the future". Living standards in Russia have continuously deteriorated since 2014, with the economy strained by repeated Western sanctions, dependence on the oil and gas sector and widespread corruption. "People haven't stopped buying and their income and savings have reduced," Goncharov said.
According to last year's survey by recruitment website SuperJob, 43 percent of Russians do not have any savings.
"People are not setting money aside and are not planning the future of the family," Goncharov added.