ISSN 2330-717X

CIS Did Not Fulfill Expectations Of Its Opponents Or Its Supporters – OpEd


Ukraine’s exit from the Commonwealth of Independent States underscores that that organization did not serve as an organizer of “a civilized divorce” of the former Soviet republics, as many described it in the early 1990s, or as the framework for “a new imperial state” as others alternatively hoped or feared, according to Vitaly Portnikov.

“Today,” the Ukrainian commentator says, “one can with complete certainty say that the CIS disappointed both the one and the other.” The CIS has not revolved conflicts in the region or done anything either to limit Moscow’s assertion of power or to advance that power in the former Soviet space (

There is thus no reason for Ukraine or any of the other countries originally in that organization to remain there, Portnikov continues. “Nothing has come of its plans to deceive its former close neighbors and draw them into a new union state under the leadership of the Russian president.”

“Over the last 27 years, Russia has been transformed from a metropolitan center into the main hearth of destabilizing the situation on the territory of the former USSR. And you can’t build an empire on instability,” the analyst points out.

As a result, “the CIS did not become either an instrument of divorce or an instrument of integration. It became a vacant space. Even as a club of presidents, into which the organization degenerated at the end of the 1990s, could not take any real decisions: its permanent participants became authoritarian rulers who represented ineffective and rapidly degrading state systems.”

“And any step toward reform and change thus became a step toward departure from the CIS. That was what happened with Georgia in the past; that is what is now happening with Ukraine; and that is what could happen with Armenia – indeed, with everyone else as well at some point.”

No organization, not even one backed by Moscow, can survive if it remains empty and without prospects, Portnikov concludes.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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