The Commonwealth of Independent States (or CIS) is an intergovernmental organization made up of post-Soviet nations throughout Eurasia. The CIS promotes cooperation across the member states in economic, military, and political aspects. The organization also has some power over trade, finance, security, and lawmaking, and its members ostensibly cooperate in preventing cross-border crime. It is frequently (and understandably) confused with the Commonwealth of Nations, a similar group composed of former British colonies.
The CIS currently includes nine full member states and one observer state, Mongolia. The CIS originally included two additional "founding states" that signed the original agreement to join the CIS in 1991 or 1992, but declined to ratify the charter that followed. One of these founding states, Turkmenistan, is still part of the organization and has been classified as an "associate state" since 2005. The other, Ukraine, was classifed as an associate in 1994, but withdrew from the organization following fellow CIS member Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Donbass territory in 2014. Similarly, the only full member to leave the Commonwealth of Independent States, Georgia, did so in 2008 after fellow CIS member Russia invaded, sparking the Russo-Georgian war.
Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS):
|Georgia||Former member - withdrew after Russia attacked Georgia in 2008|
|Turkmenistan||Associate state* - signed original agreement, but did not ratify charter. Assigned associate status in 2005|
|Ukraine||Former associate state* - withdrew after Russia attacked Ukraine Donbass region in 2014|
* Indicates a founding member state
The Founding of the Commonwealth of Independent States
The CIS was initially conceived in 1991 as a more loosely-bound replacement for the Soviet Union, which was in the process of dissolving into 25 former Soviet territories. The basic groundwork of the CIS was laid out in an agreement known as the Belovezh Accords (which has multiple similar translations such as the Belavezha Agreement, the Belaya Vezha Accord, etc.) and signed on December 08, 1991. The Soviet Union was officially dissolved and the CIS established later that month, on December 23, 1991, by the Alma-Ata Protocols.
Structure, size, and functions of the CIS
In keeping with the organization's less stringent connection, the CIS is not considered a country, as the Soviet Union was, but rather an international alliance between separate countries, akin to the United Nations or he European Union. The CIS region as a whole spans more than 23 million km² (9+ million mi²) and boasts a population of approximately 300 million people.
The CIS also oversees several satellite organizations: the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which facilitates a sort of free-trade agreement between CIS nations; the Union State, which creates deeper economic and military connections between Russia and Belarus, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance between several CSI countries. In 2012, eight of the nine members signed on to participate in the Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area (CISFTA), another satellite program.