Managing the Ethnic Factor in the Russian and Soviet Armed Forces

An Historical Overview

by Susan L. Curran, Dmitry Ponomareff


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This report examines the history of Russian (pre-Soviet) and Soviet attempts to employ and manage national minorities in military establishments and campaigns. The analysis concentrates on policies and practices adopted to involve minority manpower in the military while maintaining Slavic dominance of and control over the armed force of the state. In particular, the study traces how the number of ethnic groups drawn into the military has consistently expanded throughout the centuries, identifies the types of units and operational roles to which minorities have been assigned, and discusses the difficulties encountered by virtue of language differences and the potential unreliability and disloyalty of non-Russian soldiers.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.