On this day today 30 years ago, the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) after it was established Dec. 8 in a treaty between Ukraine, Belarus and Russia (not a member).

The states had only recently become independent from the Soviet Union after Gorbachev’s concepts of perestroika (transformation) and glasnost (openness) had restructured the Union since 1986 in response to several public instances of the failure of the Soviet Union (e.g., Chernobyl, Afghanistan). Together with the changing world order and the political reorganization of the other Eastern bloc countries, they contributed to the slow disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Although Gorbachev’s initial goal had been to reorganize the confederation, the failure of the August 1991 coup also accelerated the disintegration to the point where the Soviet republics moved toward independence.

In the period between March 1990 and December 1991, a total of 21 states declared their independence from the Soviet Union, and with the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev on December 25, 2021, the Soviet Union was dissolved under international law by a decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.