Soviet Union (1922-1991) Part 3

Armed forces

At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the total strength of the Soviet Army (the official name from 1946, previously “Red Army”) was around 3.98 million men, plus 5.6 million reservists who had served no more than five years ago. Not included in the total number were 490,000 men of the “railway and construction troops” as well as the “inner troops” (250,000 men) subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior and the “border troops of the KGB” (230,000 men). The Soviet Army was divided into the five branches of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Air Defense and Strategic Missile Forces. 920,000 men were not assigned to any of these branches of the armed forces as members of central command, training and logistics facilities. The length of military service since 1967 was two.

The army (1.47 million soldiers) had the following major formations: 142 motorized rifle divisions, 46 armored and seven airborne divisions, but only some of them corresponded to full military strength and were in constant combat readiness. In addition to the actual combat divisions, there were a large number of independent logistics, combat support, command and combat troop units, including, among others. 19 artillery divisions and ten air storm brigades. The equipment included v. a. around 60,000 battle tanks (T-80, T-72, T-64, T-62 and outdated T-54 / -55) and around 87,000 armored combat vehicles.

The Luftwaffe (420,000 men) consisted of the “tactical air force”, the “transport air force” and the operationally part of the strategic nuclear force “long-distance air force”. Among other things, the Luftwaffe owned around 175 long-range bombers (especially Tu-160, Tu-95), 4,400 combat aircraft (especially MiG-23, MiG-27, MiG-29, Su-24) and 670 transport aircraft (especially Il-76).

The Navy (410,000 men) was divided into the Pacific, Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets. At floating combat units were among others. five aircraft carriers, 242 tactical submarines, 43 cruisers, 180 destroyers and frigates, 70 corvettes, 320 small combat ships and 63 almost exclusively nuclear-powered units of the strategic submarine fleet with 930 long-range missiles are available. In addition to the actual naval forces, the Soviet fleet had a marine infantry force (15,000 men) and the sea air force (68,000 men).

The air defense troops (500,000 men) were responsible for the direct protection of the airspace. Funding for this was around 2,300 combat aircraft (mainly MiG-23, MiG-25 / MiG-31, Su-15, Su-27) and 8,700 launchers for heavy and medium anti-aircraft missiles. The strategic missile troops (260,000 soldiers), along with the sea- and air-based nuclear weapon carriers, formed the most important part of the operationally integrated strategic nuclear forces of the Soviet Union. After the destruction of the medium-range missiles covered by the INF Treaty (which came into force in 1988; INF) there were still 1,398 ICBMs in the inventory.

With regard to the Treaty on the Reduction of Strategic Weapons (START), the republics of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan agreed that the corresponding weapon systems would be brought to the territory of Russia and destroyed there in accordance with the treaty. In connection with the ratification process regarding the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (VKSE), which was signed by the Soviet Union in 1990, the republics in the European part of the former Soviet Union agreed in 1992 on the distribution of stocks of large weapon systems; the dissolution of the old Soviet army was finally initiated.


According to programingplease, the population had grown from (1940) 194.1 million residents to (1951) 181.6 million, (1970) 241.7 million to (1990) 288.6 million residents. In the multi-ethnic state of the Soviet Union, 128 peoples were recorded in the last census (January 12, 1989).


Religious policy was based on the principle of the separation of state and church, the restriction of religious freedom to the exercise of religious cult acts, the express prohibition of religious instruction for children and young people and the state promotion of atheism. Religious communities were prohibited by law from owning property. The state made churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and monastery buildings available in which the religious communities had the legal status of “users”. Based on the principle that religion was a “private matter”, the local religious communities were legally viewed as “private organizations”. Each local parish was subject to the obligation of state registration, whereby at least twenty people of legal age had to register by name; Persons not of legal age were excluded from membership (under threat of punishment). According to the communist state ideology, religion was regarded as an “expression of a wrong social consciousness”; “Religious needs” were viewed as rudiments of the pre-socialist social order that would be “overcome” in the course of the social development process.

The separation of state and church, the abolition of the legal status of the Russian Orthodox Church as a state church and the formal equality of all religious communities took place immediately after the establishment of the RSFSR through the “Law on the Separation of Church from State and School from Church” from January 23, 1918. When it came into effect, the religious communities also lost the right to dispose of property, buildings and religious works of art. With the “Law on Religious Associations” of April 8, 1929, their activities were limited exclusively to the performance of religious cult acts in the buildings made available by the state. In this form, religious activity was guaranteed by the 1936 Constitution. The freedom of atheist propaganda guaranteed in it found its expression v. a. in the Wicked movement.

A reorientation of the religious policy, which was based on social exclusion and extensive marginalization of religious communities (sometimes also on sharp confrontation), only took place under M. Gorbachev . This initially led to an improvement in the state’s practical relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and, in 1989, to the readmission of Greek Catholic parishes in Ukraine (Ukrainian churches). Between 1989 and 1991, Muslims were allowed to reopen or reopen around 5,000 mosques and to reopen seven Islamic universities (madrasas). The emigration policy, which had been restrictive until then, was relaxed for the long term towards Jews. A new legal basis for the state’s religious policy was created with the Religious Law of the USSR, which was passed on October 1, 1990. This guaranteed freedom of conscience, legally equated the religious communities with the atheist organizations, prohibited the state funding of atheist propaganda and granted the religious communities the right to carry out religious acts of worship outside of the cult buildings, to acquire buildings and the associated reason to import religious literature, Workshops.

Soviet Union (1922-1991) 3