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Unified army idea attacked

Three former Soviet republics refused Friday to preserve a unified army, casting doubt on the future of the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States.

The declarations by Moldova, Azerbaijan and Ukraine at a one-day summit of the 11 commonwealth leaders raised the prospect that Russia will form its own army.

The sharing of a common military command structure has been viewed as the strongest glue holding the old Soviet states together.

Wrangling over military issues has preoccupied the commonwealth since its birth nine weeks ago out of the disintegrated Soviet Union.

The leaders at the summit Friday reaffirmed their commitment to joint control over 27,000 nuclear warheads, most of which are based in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

But the dispute Friday involved the 3.7-million members of the former Soviet military and their non-nuclear weapons.

An independent Russian army could number as many as 1-million men and dwarf the others. Ukraine plans to have an army numbering 450,000 or less.

"We do not want a unified command," Ukrainian delegate Dmitro Pavlychko told the Associated Press during a break in the closed meeting in this industrial city.

_ Information from the Associated Press and Cox News Service was used in this report.