Disinfo: NATO bombed Serbia in order to make it its member


NATO bombed Serbia in order to make it a member of the Alliance. This goal, which for understandable reasons was not so obvious immediately after the air raids, became more and more obvious over time.


Disinformation narrative consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about NATO aggression.

NATO's military intervention was not intended to make Serbia a member of the alliance. It launched a campaign of air strikes against Serbia beginning on the 24th of March 1999 to stop Belgrade's crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The primary purpose of the campaign was to end violence and repression and force Milošević to withdraw his military, police and para-military forces from Kosovo (see NATO statement from 1999).

Cooperation and dialogue between Serbia and NATO has been developing since 2006, when the country joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), a multilateral forum for dialogue which brings together all Allies and partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area. NATO is an Alliance that consists of 29 independent member countries, every country decides for themselves if they want to join the Alliance or not.

See more disinformation cases about NATO and the Balkans here.


  • Reported in: Issue155
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 19/06/2019
  • Language/target audience: German
  • Country: Serbia
  • Keywords: Western Balkans, West, EU/NATO enlargement, 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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The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 killed thousands of Serbs

The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 killed thousands of Serbs.

In 1999, NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days. The exact number of victims of the Alliance’s air operation was not officially reported, but according to Serbian estimates, between 1200 and 2500 people were killed and around 6000 injured.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the number of civilian casualties of NATO bombing,

In Serbia (excluding Kosovo) and Montenegro, 275 persons lost their lives in the NATO bombings: 180 civilians, 90 members of the Yugoslav Armed Forces and 5 members of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia.

USA promised Russia that there will be no NATO expansion to the East

The USA promised Russia that there will be no NATO expansion to the  East.

US Secretary of State, James Baker, had agreed with Gorbachev in 1990 in his negotiations on German reunification that there would be no expansion of NATO beyond the then eastern borders of the GDR.

“Baker noted this oral promise in a note: “End result: Unified Ger. anchored* in a changed (polit.) NATO -* whose jurisdiction. would not move* eastwards!”


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation that NATO had promised that the Alliance would not expand to the East and that NATO is de facto aggressive.

NATO allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO or the US. Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus' and do not constitute formal NATO agreements. Moreover, at the time of the alleged promise, the Warsaw Pact still existed.  Its members did not agree on its dissolution until 1991. This was confirmed by Mikhail Gorbachev himself in an interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines:

There is no evidence of Russian involvement in the MH17 crash

There is still no evidence of Russian involvement in the MH17 disaster; just rumours.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the Joint Investigation Team’s allegations that Russians were involved in the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH17 crash in 2014. As in previous Joint Investigation Team press conferences, not a single piece of concrete evidence has been presented to substantiate such unlawful statements. The Joint Investigation Team is obviously confining itself to arguments that are not entirely reasonable.

No information was available on the involvement of the Russian citizens mentioned in the 2014 Donbas air crash.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the downing of MH17 that denies Russia's responsibility.

Recently, the Joint Investigation Team announced that it will issue international arrest warrants for three Russian military and intelligence officers – Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, Oleg Pulatov – and Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko, commander of the military combat unit in Donetsk. They will be prosecuted for their involvement in the murder of the 298 passengers aboard MH17, which was brought down by a Russian Buk missile. The trial will begin next March.