commonwealth of independent states (cis) is a free association of
sovereign states formed in 1991, comprising russia and eleven other
republics that were formerly part of the soviet union. the cis had
its origins on 8 december 1991, when the elected leaders of russia,
ukraine, and belarus (belorussia) signed an agreement forming a new
association to replace the crumbling union of soviet socialist
slavic republics were subsequently joined by the central asian
republics of kazakhstan, kyrgyzstan, tajikistan, turkmenistan, and
uzbekistan, by the transcaucasian republics of armenia, azerbaijan,
and georgia, and by moldova. (the remaining former soviet republics
of lithuania, latvia, and estonia declined to join the new
organization.) the cis formally came into being on 21 december 1991
and began operations the following month, with the city of minsk in
belarus designated as its administrative center.
commonwealth抯 functions are to coordinate its members?policies
regarding their economies, foreign relations, defense, immigration
policies, environmental protection, and law enforcement. its top
governmental body is a council composed of the member republics?
heads of state (i.e., presidents) and of government (prime
ministers), who are assisted by committees of republic cabinet
ministers in key areas such as economics and defense.
russia is the
dominant force in the commonwealth of independent states. the 1990s
were the period when the post-soviet and postimperial russian state
sought to redefine the boundaries of its national interests. it is
hardly surprising that the fate of the twenty-five million russians
in the 搉ear abroad?(meaning the other former republics of the
soviet union) should be central to the national and state interests
of post-soviet russia. at the same time, russian democratic leaders
take pains to point out that russia seeks to construct its relations
with the newly independent states of the former union on a basis of
equality and mutual respect for sovereignty.
1990s russia established itself as a peacekeeper and the guardian of
cis borders. the central asian states, as well as armenia and
georgia, formally agreed that russian troops should police their
borders jointly with local forces. all states agreed that russia
should send troops to the breakaway georgian region of abkhaziya.
mainly russian, remain in tajikistan. russia was less successful in
getting cis states to contribute to the costs of the peacekeeping