Poperechnaia A. D. Problems of discipline in ethnic units of the Russian army in 1914 – early 1917 (.pdf)


On the eve of the First World War, the Russian government proposed an idea of creating special ethnic army units. Extra sub-divisions were aimed at improving armed force efficiency and discipline. The Russian military leadership was wary of adverse effect and did not support the proposal. Nevertheless, the named army elements were organized. In the present article, the author analyzes the state of discipline in the ethnic formations in 1914 – early 1917 and shows that the number of violations has been great for the whole period. Permanent delinquencies, such as defections, absences without leave, embezzlements, misappropriations, insubordinations and others, were caused, in particular, by a lack of strict control in the front area: there were no military courts or they were badly organized. The Russian Revolution of 1917 accelerated moral degradation in all army formations and in ethnic units specifically. The army began to lose fights with increasing frequency and the constant growth of loss. The tendency embittered members of ethnic army units against Russians that resulted in deterioration of discipline. The author concludes that the government’s decision to form ethnic units was short-sighted.


Key words: The First World War, ethnic military formations, military discipline, crime offenses.


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