Special Report

A Look at the Recent Military History of Every Former Soviet Republic

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Russian Federation
> GDP: $1,483.50 billion
> GNI per capita: $29,110
> Population: 144,104,080

The Russian Federation, or Russia, is the largest country in the world, covering 6.6 million square miles. The federation is heir to the Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1991 and has its roots in the Russian Empire, which was toppled by the Bolsheviks during World War I. Since the end of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has had a difficult transition toward a democratic state and market-based economy. Under President Vladimir Putin, the country has become more authoritarian, and with recent developments in Ukraine, Russia has returned to its expansionist legacy.

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> GDP: $8.19 billion
> GNI per capita: $4,500
> Population: 9,537,642

Tajikistan is another central Asian landlocked country, and according to the U.S. Department of State, one of the poorest in the world. The Tajik people came under the thumb of the Russian Empire in the middle part of the 19th century. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks had a difficult time getting control of the region and finally did so in 1925. An independent Tajikistan was declared in 1991 after the Soviet Union broke up, and a civil war followed. Election corruption and irregularities have been commonplace after the nation achieved independence.

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> GDP: $45.23 billion
> GNI per capita: $15,600
> Population: 6,031,187

Turkmenistan has been the crossroads of civilization for thousands of years. After Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan is the least densely populated of the central Asian nations. The region was claimed by Tsarist Russia in the late 19th century. Anti-Bolshevik sentiment was strong after the Russian Revolution, and Turkmen resisted until the area became a Soviet Republic in 1924. After it gained independence following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has had a fitful transition to representative government, as elections have been regarded as undemocratic. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has won elections with more than 97% of the vote twice.

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> GDP: $155.50 billion
> GNI per capita: $13,390
> Population: 44,134,693

After weeks of saber rattling and cyberattacks, Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. This is the latest chapter in the problematic relationship between the two nations. Much of Ukraine was absorbed by the Russian Empire in the last part of the 18th century. Ukraine experienced a brief period of independence after the Russian Revolution but was taken over by the Soviet Union in 1920. Oppressive Soviet economic policies caused several horrific famines in the 1920s and 1930s in which more than 8 million died. World War II was a catastrophe for Ukraine, when up to 8 million people were killed.

After Ukraine became independent following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the legacy of state control and corruption has hampered democratic efforts. Russia annexed the Crimean part of Ukraine in 2014, and Russia began backing Ukraine’s eastern provinces that were sympathetic to Russia.

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> GDP: $59.93 billion
> GNI per capita: $7,710
> Population: 34,232,050

Uzbekistan is a landlocked central Asian nation north of Turkmenistan and south of Kazakhstan. Russia conquered what is present-day Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Uzbeks resisted the Red Army after the Bolshevik Revolution, but the area eventually became a Soviet republic in 1924. Since it became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has had steady leadership. Its first president, Islom Karimov, led the nation for 25 years until he died in 2016. His successor, former Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is credited with introducing economic, judicial, and social reforms.

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