Commonwealth of Independent States
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Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of RussiaRussia,
officially the Russian Federation,
Rus. Rossiya, republic (2015 est. pop. 143,888,000), 6,591,100 sq mi (17,070,949 sq km). The largest country in the world by area, Russia is bounded by Norway and Finland in the northwest; by Estonia, Latvia, Belarus,
..... Click the link for more information. , BelarusBelarus
, officially Republic of Belarus, republic (2015 est. pop. 9,486,000), c.80,150 sq mi (207,600 sq km), E central Europe. It is sometimes called White Russia, and was known as Belorussia under Soviet rule.
..... Click the link for more information. , and UkraineUkraine
, Ukr. Ukraina, republic (2015 est. pop. 44,658,000), 232,046 sq mi (601,000 sq km), E Europe. It borders on Poland in the northwest; on Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova in the southwest; on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south; on Russia in the
..... Click the link for more information. . Between Dec. 8 and Dec. 21, the three original signatories were joined by ArmeniaArmenia
, Armenian Hayastan, officially Republic of Armenia, republic (2015 est. pop. 2,917,000), 11,500 sq mi (29,785 sq km), in the S Caucasus. Armenia is bounded by Turkey on the west, Azerbaijan on the east (the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan is on its
..... Click the link for more information. , AzerbaijanAzerbaijan
, Azeri Azərbaycan, officially Republic of Azerbaijan, republic (2015 est. pop. 9,617,000), 33,428 sq mi (86,579 sq km), in Transcaucasia. Strategically situated at the gateway to SW Asia, Azerbaijan is bounded by Iran on the south, where the Aras (Araks)
..... Click the link for more information. (its parliament, however, rejected ratifying its membership until 1993), KazakhstanKazakhstan
, officially Republic of Kazakhstan, republic (2015 est. pop. 17,750,000), c.1,050,000 sq mi (2,719,500 sq km), central Asia. It borders on Siberian Russia in the north, China in the east, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan in the south,
..... Click the link for more information. , KyrgyzstanKyrgyzstan
, officially Kyrgyz Republic, republic (2015 est. pop. 5,865,000), c.76,600 sq mi (198,400 sq km), central Asia. It borders on China in the southeast, on Kazakhstan in the north, on Uzbekistan in the west, and on Tajikistan in the southwest.
..... Click the link for more information. , MoldovaMoldova
, officially Republic of Moldova, republic (2015 est. pop. 4,066,000), c.13,000 sq mi (33,670 sq km). Chişinău (formerly Kishinev) is the capital and largest city. Land and People
Moldova is landlocked.
..... Click the link for more information. , TajikistanTajikistan
, officially Republic of Tajikistan, republic (2015 est. pop. 8,192,000), 55,251 sq mi (143,100 sq km), central Asia. It borders on China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, Kyrgyzstan in the north, and Uzbekistan in the west and northwest.
..... Click the link for more information. , TurkmenistanTurkmenistan
, republic (2015 est. pop. 5,565,000), 188,455 sq mi (488,100 sq km), central Asia. It borders on Afghanistan and Iran in the south, Uzbekistan in the east and northeast, Kazakhstan in the northwest, and the Caspian Sea in the west.
..... Click the link for more information. , and UzbekistanUzbekistan
, Uzbek Ozbekiston, officially Republic of Uzbekistan, republic (2015 est. pop. 29,200,000), 173,552 sq mi (449,500 sq km), central Asia. The republic, which is the most populous country in Central Asia, borders on Afghanistan in the south, on Turkmenistan in
..... Click the link for more information. . When GeorgiaGeorgia
, Georgian Sakartvelo, Rus. Gruziya, officially Republic of Georgia, republic (2015 est. pop. 3,952,000), c.26,900 sq mi (69,700 sq km), in W Transcaucasia.
..... Click the link for more information. joined in 1993 all of the former republics of the USSR except the Baltic statesBaltic states,
the countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, bordering on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Formed in 1918, they remained independent republics until their involuntary incorporation in 1940 into the USSR. They regained their independence in Sept.
..... Click the link for more information. had become members of the CIS. Georgia withdrew in 2008 (finalized 2009) following its conflict with Russia over South Ossetia. The headquarters of the CIS are in Minsk.
The organization was conceived as the successor to the USSR in its role of coordinating the foreign and economic policies of its member nations. The treaty recognized current borders and each republic's independence, sovereignty, and equality, and established a free-market ruble zone embracing the republics' interdependent economies and a joint defense force for participating republics. Strategic nuclear weapons, in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, were to be under the joint control of those republics, with day-to-day authority in the hands of the Russian president and defense minister; Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, however, no longer possess such weapons. The CIS at first convened only a council of the heads of state of its members, but in 1992 it convened a council of heads of government and a council of foreign ministers.
The republics' level of receptivity to integration with Russia has varied. All CIS nations now have their own currency, and most members have had occasion to criticize Russia for slow implementation of CIS agreements. Ukraine (which had a prolonged disagreement with Russia over the disposition of the Black Sea and remained wary of Russia, which ultimately seized Crimea and supported an E Ukrainian rebellion), Turkmenistan (whose large gas reserves free it from dependence on Russia), Azerbaijan (whose oil reserves also allow for independence from Russia), and Moldova (which faced an insurgency in the Russian-dominated Trans-Dniester region) have been relatively inactive in the alliance, and in 2005 Turkmenistan became an associate member. Armenia (surrounded by the Muslim nations of Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey), Georgia (with separatist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan (vulnerable because of its limited natural resources) accepted Russia's protection under a joint defense system and Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan also signed the Collective Security Treaty, but Azerbaijan and Georgia later withdrew from the defense agreement. In 2002 the treaty adherents agreed to establish the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which superseded the CIS as a forum for military cooperation in 2005. Uzbekistan, which had suspended its security treaty membership in 1998, joined the CSTO in 2006. Uzbekistan and Belarus did not join the other CSTO nations in establishing (2009) the CSTO's rapid reaction force, and in 2012 Uzbekistan again suspended its membership in the CSTO.
Because the CIS has remained essentially a regional forum, progress toward the integration of its member nations has tended to take place outside the organization. In 1996, Belarus signed a treaty with Russia to coordinate their defense and foreign policy apparatus and to eliminate trade restrictions and eventually unite their currencies. Individual sovereignty is to be maintained, but they created supranational bodies to effect these changes. The two nations have since signed several follow-up agreements, but actual progress toward integration has been slow. They, Kazakhstan (which has a large Russian community), and Kyrgyzstan additionally agreed to pursue economic integration without customs restrictions. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan later joined the economic grouping, which became the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) in 2001, but Uzbekistan suspended its membership in 2008. In 2003, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine agreed to form a Single Economic Space; the treaty was ratified the following year, but subsequent tensions between Russia and Ukraine led the latter not to participate in the agreement (2009) led to a customs union in 2010 and a common economic space in 2012. In 2014 Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia agreed to increase economic integration by establishing (2015) the Eurasian Economic Union, and Armenia and Kyrgyzstan subsequently joined. In 2011, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine signed a free-trade pact; Uzbekistan joined the free-trade zone in 2013.