Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

Context: India’s Defence Minister is visiting Moscow from September 3-5, 2020 at the invitation of Defence Minister of Russian Federation to attend the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member States in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of victory in the World War II. 


  1. Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a free association of sovereign states that was formed in 1991 by Russia and 11 other republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Ukraine) that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, forming a new association to replace the crumbling Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). 
  2. The remaining former Soviet republics—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—declined to join the new organization.
  3. Following an escalation of hostilities between Russia and Georgia over the separatist region of South Ossetia, Georgia withdrew from the CIS.
  4. Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea led to the withdrawal of Ukraine’s membership from the CIS.
  5. In 2005, Turkmenistan withdrew from the CIS, and is now classified as an associate member.
  6. Afghanistan and Mongolia are Observer states.

The city of Minsk in Belarus has been designated as the administrative centre of the CIS.

  • The CIS’s functions are to coordinate its members’ policies regarding their economies, foreign relations, defence, 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).
  • The CIS’s members pledged to keep both their armed forces and the former Soviet nuclear weapons stationed on their territories under a single unified command.

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