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The Commonwealth of Independent States to hold meeting

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The Commonwealth of Independent States to hold meeting

CIS armenia
Photo: sns.am

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Heads of State Council will meet virtually today to discuss Belarus’ assumption of the CIS presidency.

The CIS is a nine-member intergovernmental organisation that promotes inter-state cooperation. Its membership is held exclusively by Soviet successor states. The Council convenes annually to consider changes to the CIS’ charter. Traditionally, the CIS presidency, which involves coordinating inter-state trade policies and organising international summits, has served to deepen each nation’s ties with Russia, the organisation’s most powerful member.

Expect Russian representatives to leverage Council discussions and Belarus’ upcoming CIS presidency to secure Belarusian concession to a political union with Russia. As the CIS presidency organises competition with regional blocs such as the EU, Belarus’ term is expected to further its shift from previous partnerships with the West in energy and information technology. Nevertheless, Belarus’ technology sector is likely to suffer under EU-led sanctions. Russia has already acted to prevent Belarus from seeking out Western energy, forcing Minsk — which, as recently as June 2020, purchased 80,000 tons of oil from the US — to merge its natural gas market with Russia’s. Significant external and internal factors thus suggest Belarus’ presidency will rearrange CIS states’ affairs in the near-term.

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