Disinfo: NATO exploits the idea of a “Russian threat” to deploy near Russian borders


NATO is very much aware that Moscow has no intention of attacking anyone, but NATO exploits the “Russian threat” as a pretext for deploying more military personnel and equipment near Russian borders. The “Russian threat” is periodically used as a bogeyman by politicians of some NATO countries, particularly Poland and the Baltic states. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that Russia will never attack any NATO country.


This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that the “Russian threat” is a false idea, created by the US and other Western actors to isolate and encircle Russia. According to this narrative, the US and NATO have deliberately created a false image of an aggressive Russia. The article repeats a particular version of this narrative claiming that the “imaginary Russian threat” is only a pretext for stationing more NATO military contingents near Russian borders.

NATO’s concern about Russia’s security challenges to the alliance is genuine and not a pretext for stationing more NATO military resources near Russia’s borders. Ever since the 2014 Ukraine crisis, NATO and Western governments have been genuinely concerned about Russia’s increasingly aggressive foreign and military policies and about the challenges posed by Russia to Transatlantic security.

Until the Ukraine crisis, NATO consistently worked to build a cooperative relationship with Russia. For more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, NATO's strategy was based on the perception that Russia no longer posed a security threat and should increasingly be viewed as a partner for the Alliance.

This perception changed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine in early 2014, which was was widely viewed both in North America and in Europe as violating the basic rules of the post-Cold War European order, especially the rule that borders are inviolable and the states should not use force to alter them or take territory from other states. As a result of Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, many Western states - including key EU members such as Germany and France critically reassessed their “strategic partnership” policies towards Russia and began to perceive Russia as a serious challenge to the European security order while Poland and the Baltic states perceived Russian intervention in Ukraine as a clear threat to their national security.

Moreover, in the past six years European governments and security services have been increasingly concerned about Russian hostile influence activities aimed at weakening the EU and NATO, fermenting divisions in societies and discrediting and destabilising liberal democracies. Such activities – often described as “hybrid threats” – include cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, interference in political processes, energy pressures, intelligence operations, the strategic use of corruption and the deployment of unmarked military personnel.

Read similar cases claiming that the US has created a false image of an aggressive Russia in order to prevent close Europe-Russia economic cooperation and that the idea of a Russian threat to Europe exists only in the minds of Cold War nostalgics or is a deliberate invention of certain countries.


  • Reported in: Issue 218
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 22/10/2020
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Russia, Baltic states, Poland
  • Keywords: Military, Encircling Russia, Russophobia, 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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