The Commonwealth of Independent States is struggling to create a central military command at the same time that individual members of the Commonwealth are forging their own national armies. Although the former task appears to be more daunting, the difficulties in creating stable, functional territorial armies should not be underestimated. Difficulties will arise because the states themselves are multinational in makeup and will have to contend with ethnic problems among their servicemen. Utilizing data from a survey of former Soviet citizens, the author tested two competing hypotheses about the impact of the Soviet military on ethnic relations in the now defunct Soviet empire in order to increase understanding of some of the difficulties that the newly independent states will confront as they establish their own militaries. The impact of ethnic tensions on military performance was also examined. The results provide no basis for claims that the Soviet military either exacerbated or mitigated ethnic conflict. However, ethnic relations had a profound impact on military performance. This article discusses the implications of these findings for the successor states to the Soviet Union.

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