Guide to New Nations: Eastern Europe
When it was part of the Soviet Union, Belarus was the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. After it declared its independence in August 1991, it was called Byelorussia, later Belarus. It is also known as White Russia. In December 1991 it became a co-founder of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes Russia and a number of former Soviet republics.
The Soviet republic of Moldavia declared its independence in September 1991, later changing its name to the Romanian spelling, Moldova. In the early 1990s Russian troops occupied part of Moldova in aid of Russian and Ukrainians seeking to breakaway from predominantly Romanian Moldova. Another region in the south also sought to secede.
In 1997, Moldova adopted a new constitution stressing its separate identity from Romania, which has ruled much of the area in the past.
A former Soviet republic, Ukraine declared its independence on August 21, 1991. In December 1991, Ukraine co-founded the Commonwealth of Independent States, made up of former Soviet republics that had become independent.