Commonwealth of Independent States

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was formed by Russia, Belarus and Ukraine in 1991 following dissolution of the Soviet Union. Its membership includes 11 of the original 15 independent states that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union:

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

The CIS was conceived as a successor to the USSR in coordinating foreign and economic policies of its member states. Its headquarters are located in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, and Sergei Lebedev has been chairman of its Executive Committee since 2007. Two of the 11 members, Ukraine and Turkmenistan, signed the CIS charter in 1991, but they have not ratified the document, thereby effectively staying outside of the CIS.

Commonwealth of Independent States flag

Commonwealth of Independent States flag

Georgia withdrew from membership in 2008, following the war with Russia. The Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) chose not to join.

Tashkent Treaty

The receptivity of members to integration or even coordination with Russia has varied widely. The CIS formed a collective security treaty, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, signed in Tashkent in 1992 by Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, with Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia signing the following year. However, when the treaty came up for renewal in 1999, only six states remained, with Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan withdrawing. Moldova, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine never signed the Tashkent Treaty and have refused to participate in its activities.

Operations

Some CIS forces have supplemented Russian troops along the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Elsewhere in the region CIS peacekeeping operations have been composed almost exclusively of Russian forces. The CIS also includes non-security groups, such as the Eurasian Economic Community.

The CIS created an election observation office in 2002, which has often reached diametrically opposed conclusions to those reached by ODIHR concerning elections in post-Soviet states.

CIS view of OSCE
 Sergey Lebedev (r), Executive Secretary of Commonwealth of Independent States, alongside Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 27 June 2013.  (OSCE/Micky Kroell

Sergey Lebedev (r), Executive Secretary of Commonwealth of Independent States, alongside Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 27 June 2013. (OSCE/ Micky Kroell)

CIS Executive Secretary Sergey Lebedev addressed  the OSCE Permanent Council on June 27, 2013.  His presentation included a call for greater cooperation between international organizations in building a security community, agreed with the Ukraine CiO's priorities, and highlighted post-2014 Afghanistan as a security issue.  Noting the CIS experience in election monitoring, he argued for a single approach to the subject (underlining differences with ODIHR's approach).