The Commonwealth of Independent States, never long on wealth, is running out of commonality. A summit meeting, repeatedly postponed since last October, is set for April 2 in Moscow. If it takes place, it may be the last for a long time.
The reaction of member states to NATO expansion expresses the deep geopolitical divide in the organization. Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, the first two with unwanted Russian troops still on their territory and the third partially occupied by Russian-backed Armenian forces, congratulated Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic on their accession to NATO. Georgia’s president hailed NATO’s expansion for “overcoming the divisions that totalitarianism had imposed.” Similarly Ukraine’s foreign ministry issued a statement welcoming NATO’s enlargement and repeating that “any state is entitled to choose for itself the means to guarantee its security.” Russia, Armenia and most of the Central Asian members of the CIS have quite a different attitude toward NATO’s expansion and quite a different view of what will promote security in Europe.
The CIS was originally conceived as a ruble bloc and a counterweight to NATO. These purposes have been rejected and not replaced. The CIS no longer has a purpose and may not much longer have a life.