Europe politics: Quick View - CIS council meeting to boost military co-operation

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Country Data and Maps
Economist Intelligence Unit
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International Relations, Politics, News Analysis, Forecast
Political Geography
Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Belarus


The meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will take place in Sochi, Russia, on October 11th. It is expected to produce a document on the development of a CIS joint system of air defences. Belarus is well positioned to benefit from this development.


The CIS, founded in 1991, includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as member states, and Ukraine and Turkmenistan as participant (or associated) states, even though Ukraine's relationship with the CIS has been unclear since 2014. Alyaksandar Lukashenka, the Belarusian president, has always been keen to deepen Belarus's co-operation with Russia in various regional organisations such as the CIS, the Eurasian Economic Union or the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). The CIS Executive Committee is headquartered in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.

The timing of the CIS council meeting, shortly after the end of the Zapad 2017 military manoeuvres between Russia and Belarus, is significant. Belarus has joint air defences with Russia, which were used during the Zapad exercise. Mr Lukashenka more than once mentioned that Russia's air defences effectively start at Belarus's western borders. In addition, military co-operation between Russia and Belarus spreads to the CSTO, where both sides take part in joint air-defence exercises. The most recent ones-scheduled to complement the Zapad military exercises and described by the Russian Ministry of Defence as a joint-CIS exercise-took place in September at a Russian firing range in the Astrakhan Oblast, as well as at firing ranges in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

Should the CIS acquire a working military structure, the organisation would depart from being a post-Soviet discussion club to becoming an effective military union of Russia's junior partners. As a first step, we believe that the CIS countries that would be most interested in such co-operation would be Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. Central Asian states are also actively courted by various China-led organisations owing to their strategic location.

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