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The three Soviet Transcaucasian republics — Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia — experienced growing political and ethnic unrest, as well as increased aspirations for self-determination, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This Note analyzes those political problems and aspirations. The author concludes that the events of 1990 and 1991 have illustrated the major problems the Transcaucasus faces. Historical resentments, ethnic rivalries, the inexperience of political leaders, and the likelihood of increasing economic strains all justify doubts about the Transcaucasians' ability to manage the transition to democracy and some form of federation or complete independence. Nevertheless, the immediate future appears to lie in the Transcaucasians' own hands: Soviet efforts to preserve the Soviet Union intact deny Moscow the capacity to intervene militarily in the Transcaucasus to force submission.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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