Vladimir Putin has urged Russian women to have “seven, eight or more” children in a bid to reverse the population slump.

The huge country of 143.4 million people has seen a huge dive in birth rates over recent years - with the president's disastrous invasion of Ukraine blamed for putting off even more people from having kids.

And with an estimated over 100,000 troops now dead since fighting started last February, he is now demanding that Russians go back to the tsarist era, when large families were more common. Putin himself is believed to have at least six children to three different partners - although he only publicly admits to two daughters.

Vladimir Putin has called on Russian women to have more babies (

In a controversial new video, he instructed Russians to give birth to more children - and promised they would get state support for “motherhood”. Putin said: “Thank God many of our people have a tradition of a strong multi-generational family, raising four, five and more children. Let us remember how in Russian families many of our grandmothers and great grandmothers had seven, eight, or even more children. Let's preserve and revive these wonderful traditions. Having many children, a large family, should become a norm, a way of life for all the peoples of Russia. A family is not just the foundation for state and society, it is a spiritual phenomenon, the source of morality.”

He added that "support for family, motherhood, childhood should cover the work of all areas of government "without exception", with economic, social, infrastructure policies, education and health care among the areas where the principle would be applied. His plea follows a 555,000 fall in the Russian population in the first year of Putin’s war, with many families now too nervous to start or increase their families as more men are sent off to the front line.

Russia's crashing economy also discourages families from having children, according to demographers. The average number of babies per woman is currently 1.42 - well below the replacement rate of 2.1. His country is also making abortions harder to get, with several regions banning them in private clinics.

Russia's war in Ukraine and crashing economy has discouraged families from having children, according to demographers (
Putin keeps his private life secret, but his daughter Katerina Tikhonova, 37, is a dancer-turned-mathematician (
Vitaly Nevar)

Putin, 71, is known to have two daughters with his first wife Lyudmila Putina, 65, Russia’s former first lady. Maria Vorontsova, 38, a geneticist and expert on dwarfism is a leading researcher at the National Medical Research Centre for Endocrinology of the Ministry of Health of Russia, and Katerina Tikhonova, 37, a high kicking ‘rock’n’roll’ dancer-turned-mathematician, is director-general of the National Intellectual Development Foundation in Russia.

He also has a daughter Luiza Rozova, 20, also known as Elizaveta Krivonogikh. She is believed to be a student in Paris following a long term extra marital relationship with cleaner-turned-multimillionaire Svetlana Krivonogikh, 48, according to Russian investigative journalists. Putin is separately understood to have three young children with current partner Alina Kabaeva, 40, a former Olympic gold medal winning rhythmic gymnast. There is also unconfirmed speculation that he fathered a son while stationed in East Germany as a Soviet KGB spy.

However, despite his new appeal for bigger families, Putin is fiercely opposed to divulging details private life to Russians, and once said: "I have a private life in which I do not permit interference. It must be respected.” He also spoke of his contempt for "those who with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies prowl into others' lives”.