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.

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