The Republics of the Soviet Union, also known as Union Republics and Soviet Sovereign Republics (SSRs), are the primary constituent units of the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics. Each republic is a sovereign state, united under a confederate government. The Soviet Union currently contains 15 republics, each of which are ethnically-based. Prior to the 1991, the Soviet Union ran more as a unitary government, leaving the republics with little to no power over their people. Since its re-establishment, questions have been raised as to the true identity of the Soviet Union, and the exact relationship between the republics and the federal government.
The Soviet Union was established on December 26, 1991, with the unification of four Soviet Socialist Republics: Belarus, Russia, Transcaucasia (which would later be divided into Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), and Ukraine. Prior to glasnost and perestroika, the republics of the USSR had little to no control over their own affairs, causing many to question whether the USSR was indeed a union.
The signing of the New Union Treaty would lead to the restructuring of the Soviet Union into a union of sovereign states, in which each republic has greater (if not total) control over their affairs.
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