Russian President Boris Yeltsin said Wednesday that the republics of Armenia and Kirgizia have agreed to join the commonwealth that was formed over the weekend by the three Slavic republics.

Speaking with reporters, Yeltsin also said the republics of Kazakhstan, Tad-zhikistan and Turkmenia would decide Thursday whether to join.Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine on Sunday declared the Soviet Union dead and announced that they were forming a commonwealth to replace it.

Earlier, Yeltsin met with military commanders to try to win their support for the new commonwealth and indicated the officers left reassured.

The three Slavic republics agreed to form a Commonwealth of Independent States - a move that all but buried Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's proposal to hold the nation together while reserving some powers for the central government.

Yeltsin's commonwealth would welcome members as full, independent states, putting only the military under a coordinated command.

"Armenia and Kirgizia said it flatly" that they will join, Yeltsin said. "As regards Kazakhstan, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenia and probably Azerbaijan, they will decide the question tomorrow" at a meeting in the Tadzhik capital, Dushanbe, he said.

Getting all of these republics to join the commonwealth would be a major victory for Yeltsin, showing that there is broad support for such an association.

Military support also is crucial, mainly because of potential unrest over winter food shortages and uncertainty over the Soviet nuclear arsenal.

The importance of the military's loyalty was demonstrated during the failed August coup, when many senior officers refused to follow orders from the plotters - including the minister of defense.

Yeltsin met with the military only a day after Gorbachev tried to gauge the commanders' loyalty to his disintegrating Soviet Union.

A military spokesman was quoted as telling the Tass news agency that Yeltsin reassured them - and the world community - that he favors unified control over the superpower's 2.7 million soldiers and 27,000 nuclear warheads.

It was not clear whether Yeltsin meant control would remain in the hands of Gorbachev's government, or the commonwealth.

"There can be no question about any division of the armed forces. The world public need have no worry about it," the ministry spokesman, Lt. Gen. Valery Manilov, quoted Yeltsin as telling the meeting, according to Tass.

Yeltsin told reporters the meeting touched on "how to make the life of servicemen better, how to protect them and how in this very difficult period, to create a stable situation in the army, which would have an influence on other layers of society."

"It's uncomfortable for me to speak about the results myself, but I was told they were very satisfied with these conversations," Yeltsin said.

Tass disclosed Wednesday that the beleaguered Gorbachev met with the same military officials on Tuesday.

Adding to the flurry of meetings, phone calls and rumors that have swirled around the Soviet capital this week, Tass reported that Gorbachev and Yeltsin met in the Kremlin again Wednesday. No other details were available.

Gorbachev's aides say he still controls the nuclear button and still considers himself president of the entire country.

Gorbachev has disputed the Slavic republics' right to split, and his office said there was a "50-50 chance" he would speak to the national Supreme Soviet legislature when it considers the commonwealth pact on Thursday.

The pact also is on the Russian legislature's agenda Thursday.