On December 8th 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin met with the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus. This group finalised what became known as the Minsk Agreement, which formally dissolved the Soviet Union and replaced it with a Commonwealth of Independent States:
“We the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Ukraine, as founder states of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which signed the 1922 Union Treaty, further described as the high contracting parties, conclude that the USSR has ceased to exist as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality.
Article One. The high contracting parties form the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Article Two. The high contracting parties guarantee their citizens equal rights and freedoms, regardless of nationality or other distinctions. Each of the high contracting parties guarantees the citizens of the other parties, and also persons without citizenship that live on its territory, civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights and freedoms in accordance with generally recognized international norms of human rights, regardless of national allegiance or other distinctions.
Article Three. The high contracting parties, desiring to promote the expression, preservation and development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious individuality of the national minorities resident on their territories, and that of the unique ethno-cultural regions that have come into being, take them under their protection.
Article Four. The high contracting parties will develop the equal and mutually beneficial co-operation of their peoples and states in the spheres of politics, the economy, culture, education, public health, protection of the environment, science and trade and in the humanitarian and other spheres, will promote the broad exchange of information and will conscientiously and unconditionally observe reciprocal obligations…
Article Five. The high contracting parties recognise and respect one another’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of existing borders within the Commonwealth. They guarantee openness of borders, freedom of movement for citizens and of transmission of information within the Commonwealth…
Article Seven. The high contracting parties recognise that within the sphere of their activities, implemented on the equal basis through the common coordinating institutions of the Commonwealth, will be the following:
a. cooperation in the sphere of foreign policy;
b. cooperation in forming and developing the united economic area, the common European and Eurasian markets, in the area of customs policy;
c. cooperation in developing transport and communication systems;
d. co-operation in the preservation of the environment and participation in creating a comprehensive international system of ecological safety;
e. migration policy issues;
f. fighting organised crime.
Article Eight. The parties realise the planetary character of the Chernobyl catastrophe and pledge themselves to unite and coordinate their efforts in minimizing and overcoming its consequences. To these ends, they have decided to conclude a special agreement which will consider the gravity of the consequences of this catastrophe…”