On this day in 1991, the heads of state of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus met to officially dissolve the USSR. The beleaguered republic had previously recognized the independence and sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on September 6, 1991.
The document signed that day, known as the Belavezdha Accord, made the end of the Soviet Union a geological, economic and legal fact. In place of the USSR, the heads of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The CIS states would be independent of one another, but share cross-border crime prevention responsibilities and coordinate trade, finance and law.
The CIS is largely a symbolic organization, founded on the idea of mutual support and history. Ukraine is only an unofficial member of the CIS. While Ukraine was one of the three charter countries and signed and ratified the Creation Agreement, it chose not to ratify the CIS charter. Ukraine objected to the charter’s assertion that Russia is the only successor of the Soviet Union. As a result, Ukraine does not consider itself a member of the CIS.