ABSTRACT

Western observers have tended in the past to swing from one extreme to the other in analyzing civil-military relations in the Soviet Union. Such may again be the case, due to the torrent of events since Mikhail Gorbachev’s accession to power, most significantly the May 1987 dismissal of Defense Minister Sergei Sokolov, his replacement by the more Gorbachevean Dmitri Yazov, and the first steps toward perestroika in the armed forces. Having conceived of the Brezhnev period, or most of it, as a kind of idyll in civil-military relations, many are now tempted to take the opposite view of the current situation-namely, that conflict between civilians and soldiers has been exacerbated to the point of confrontation and that military influence in Soviet politics has been attenuated.