Despair in The Barracks

The Soviet military is beginning to fall apart -- even if the new commonwealth wants to keep it unified

As the Soviet Union disintegrated, the military seemed to be about the only central institution that might survive relatively intact. The very picture of unity, order and discipline, it was the force everyone courted to approve -- or wreck -- plans for the new commonwealth.

But the military's solidity is illusory. Ever dependent on Moscow center to feed an enormous appetite for men and materiel, the armed forces find they cannot sustain themselves. They have struggled through five years of political disparagement and military failure, and they have watched their privileges and perks dwindle away. Now "the collapse is finally happening,"...

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