This article focuses on the Russian Federation’s demographic crisis and the implications it holds for the ability of the Russian government (or the Russian people through their own efforts) to generate enough funds to provide a reasonable level of old-age economic security. Although Russia’s overall population profile structure stands to be broadly similar to that of other more-developed societies, both today and in coming decades, the challenges of providing for an ageing population are far more acute for Russia than for typical Member States of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. One factor that adds significantly to the problem is that working-age Russians today suffer substantially worse health and higher mortality than residents of other countries at similar — and indeed even at much lower — levels of income. Although the arguments presented focus on pensions, the same factors that will make it difficult to supply adequate pensions also mean that other aspects of social protection will be similarly difficult to fulfil. Successful social security policy for Russia, consequently, will depend upon much more than social programmes alone: it will require the reduction of mortality rates for working-age individuals, the revitalization of higher education, and fundamental reform of the country’s institutions and economic policies.