The world’s largest community of scientists disintegrated following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. With limited academic freedom and extremely scarce resources as starting points, researchers in this region have continued creating new knowledge; they have been building on rich scientific traditions in selected disciplines and at times paving new paths in non-traditional disciplines. At present, the cumulative contribution of the former Soviet countries to the global research output is only three percent, indicating that these countries are not key players on the global research scene. This study uses bibliometric methods to offer the first empirical insight into the quantity and impact of academic publications. We also look at the quality of journals in which the output is published. The findings reveal that fifteen former Soviet countries differ considerably in terms of how much they have prioritised research, as well as the quantity, quality, and impact of their publications. The research productivity across the region has not been high and, taken together, these countries have produced publications of considerably lower quality and lower impact when viewed in the context of the global research output. At the same time, researchers from the former Soviet countries tap into international collaborative networks actively, resulting in exceptionally large proportions of publications from this region being internationally co-authored. The study raises questions about the potential determinants of the country-level variation in research output and indicates that across this region, total spending on research, taken alone, cannot be linked with the quality or impact of the research output.