The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was born on the remnants of Soviet Union in 1991. Initially it was signed by leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus - three Slavic states that share a common history. Later that year every of the former Soviet republics joined the new alliance except Georgia and Azerbaijan that were forced to enter CIS in 1993, and Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania - Baltic states that never felt themselves free-will members of Soviet Union.
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The initial goals of CIS creation were as follows. First, it was made to initiate a close economic cooperation between members through establishing a so-called 'common economic space'. Second, coordination of policies between allied states with mutual respect for interests was proposed. The third main objective of CIS was to create a unified military-strategic space under a joint command. Thus, the CIS was devised as a regional union, based on the concept of a state, complete with a centralized economy and cross-border ties at the macro and micro levels.
Newly acquired independence meant little for post-soviet countries, as their economies were interdependent. In particular, membership in CIS meant the delay of energy crisis for every former Soviet republic. Despite the potential benefits CIS members could gain every of them understood the price they had to pay for using Russia's abundant energy resources. "The Soviet experience constantly reminds the new elites of the CIS that Russia could effectively usurp their independence in any supranational body in which it is the only major power center." (Aslund et al 1999, p.19). Indeed, it was never a secret that Russia uses CIS to influence the policies of regions, which were subjects of domestic policy just a few years ago.
To put it simply, every CIS member except Russia faced a dichotomy: on the one hand they had to secure their newly proclaimed sovereignty, on the other - they were unable to survive without external economic help. Although allies behaved differently from each other in this complex situation, they can be divided into three general groups.
The first group, which may be called extremely pro-Western, refused from as much cooperation with Russia as possible. Three Baltic regions, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania refused to enter CIS and decided to seek help from other neighbours. Politically, Lithuania is headed towards Poland, and Estonia along with Latvia favour toward Finland and Scandinavian region. The main reason for turning back on Russia was the fact that since their forced incorporation into the Soviet Union they've never acknowledged the legality of that claim. Still, even politically independent, Baltic States remain under Russian economic influence, as it remains their main trading partner.
The second group, the most numerous one, tries to balance between Western help and alliance with Russia. Since Russia perceives CIS as a tool to hinder if not stall the movement of NATO towards East, these members of CIS try to gain as much use as possible from this confrontation. For instance, in spite of membership in the Council of Europe and some if not frequent calls for economic help from United States (e.g. during electoral campaign of Viktor Yuschenko), Ukraine has clearly stated its attitude to Russia as "the most important strategic partner", according to words of Leonid Kuchma. Other countries that can be referred to this group are Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and
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“Commonwealth of Independent States Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 2000 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/politics/1517331-commonwealth-of-independent-states.
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