Disinfo: Despite promises made to Gorbachev, NATO expanded to include former USSR and Warsaw Pact countries


At the time of German reunification, NATO promised Gorbachev that it would not expand to the East in the case the USSR gave up the Warsaw Pact and allowed the fall of Berlin wall.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation that NATO had promised that the Alliance would not expand to the East.

NATO Allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded.  There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO.  Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement.

In addition, NATO's "Open Door Policy" is based on Article 10 of the Alliance's founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty (1949). The Treaty states that NATO membership is open to any "European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area".

Moreover, at the time of the alleged promise, the Warsaw Pact still existed. Its members did not agree on its dissolution until 1991.  The idea of their accession to NATO was not on the agenda in 1989. This was confirmed by Mikhail Gorbachev himself in an interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines:

"The topic of 'NATO expansion' was not discussed at all, and it wasn't brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility.  Not a single Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991.  Western leaders didn't bring it up, either".

The Russian narrative that NATO, a defensive alliance, is de facto aggressive is not new.  Read more in this 2015 Tagespigel analysis.

See more disinformation cases on NATO.



  • Reported in: Issue 144
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/04/2019
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: Mikhail Gorbachev, EU/NATO enlargement, Encircling Russia, NATO


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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