Disinfo: NATO has continously expanded eastward despite promises made to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990

Summary

In the last three decades, NATO has continuously expanded eastward to Russia’s borders, despite former Secretary of State James Baker’s pledge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that the West would not deploy troops east of reunified Germany in 1990.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative that NATO had promised Russia that it would not expand to the East and that Russia has been encircled by NATO. NATO allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any decision taken by NATO about putting a halt to enlargement to the East. 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, which by definition precluded any member of the Pact joining NATO. 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:

“The topic of 'NATO expansion' was not discussed at all, and it was not 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 did not bring it up either.”

Central and Eastern European countries began seeking NATO membership in the early 1990s. NATO actively sought to create a cooperative environment that was conducive to enlargement while simultaneously building special relations with Russia. NATO does not “expand”, rather, it considers the applications of candidate countries which want to join the Alliance based on their own national will. NATO enlargement is not directed against Russia. Read similar articles claiming that the West promised Moscow that NATO will not expand eastwards and that despite promises made to Gorbachev, NATO expanded to include former USSR and Warsaw Pact countries.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 209
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/08/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Italian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Germany, US, Russia
  • Keywords: Mikhail Gorbachev, Anti-Russian, USSR, Encircling Russia, EU/NATO enlargement, NATO
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Foreign Policy magazine proposed two scenarios to overthrow Lukashenko

European countries need to take control of the situation in Belarus. US magazine Foreign Policy suggests that the EU will first have to actively fill the information space with statements against Lukashenko. For example, it could be recommended to accuse him of repression or electoral fraud, at the same time that a “double approach” is promoted: Europe will announce that it is ready to provide material support to Belarus during the so-called “transition period”, and to help individual political forces inside the country that “want to help the process”. The goal is to carry out a “silent” coup in the frame of the election in Belarus. The publication admits that this scenario is unlikely, so they offer an alternative. If Lukashenko refuses to deliver the government voluntarily to a pro-Western opposition successor, he will face “hard moderation measures” in the form of colossal pressuring sanctions. However, in its attempts to overthrow Lukashenko, the article says, the European Union should take into account past mistakes. Six years ago, while Brussels was negotiating free trade with Kyiv, power-hungry Ukrainian oligarchs overthrew Viktor Yanukovych, surprising the EU, causing an armed conflict and effectively interrupting the diplomatic and constructive process of rapprochement with Europe.

Disproof

Contrary to the claim, none of those statements are in the original Foreign Policy article, whose content is deliberately distorted to support a set of recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, framing the West as conspiring to take control in Belarus through a colour revolution. Actually, the FP article calls for European strategic leadership during the Belarus crisis, strongly supporting free and fair elections in the country without expanding EU or NATO membership to Minsk, following the same model as applied during Armenia’s protests in 2018. It calls for Europeans to “learn the lessons of Ukraine and stick to a firm public script of values and rule of law”, and affirms that EU leaders should make clear “to Moscow that any dramatic erosion of Belarusian sovereignty would be met by sanctions”. This is radically different from calling for president Alexander Lukashenko’s overthrow and setting the scenarios to do it. The following cases are examples from our database where distorted quotes have been omitted to serious publications: pro-Kremlin media claimed that British outlet The Guardian pointed to the ruling elite as the real instigators of the racial crisis in the US or reported that the EU remained silent as Europeans couldn’t buy food for the first time in 75 years. The pro-Kremlin media also claimed that Newsweek magazine explained how a US coup in Iran will end; that The Guardian claimed that Soros’ structures saw an opportunity in the coronavirus pandemic to attack the “bad guys”; or that the US special envoy for Syria admitted that Washington’s goal was to defend terrorists from Russian attacks.

Explosion in Beirut was a premeditated terrorist attack

What happened in Beirut, was a unique “revenge” for the explosion of the American “USS Bonhomme Richard” aircraft carrier in the United States, which took place on July 12. That is, it was a premeditated terrorist attack.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. An unfounded statement, with no evidence to support the claim. One of the many conspirative claimes which continue to spread after the Beirut explosion. See similar case claiming that Beirut explosion was staged by Mossad. Read further debunking by Bellingcat, BBC, and Middle East Eye.

Russia has never attempted to influence democratic processes in any country

Russia has never attempted to influence democratic processes in any country and all such allegations are absolutely unfounded

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attempting to depict accusations of Russian meddling in Western democratic processes as factually unfounded and driven by "Russophobia". Independent research, media investigations and parliamentary inquiries have uncovered evidence linking Russian state actors with interference in various electoral processes, including the 2016 Brexit vote, the 2017 French Presidential elections, the 2017 German Parliamentary elections, the 2016 constitutional referendum in Italy and the Dutch referendum on the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine. Electoral interference by Russia has been extensively documented in numerous countries around the world. Independent research, media investigations and parliamentary inquiries have uncovered evidence linking Russian state actors with interference in various electoral processes, including the 2016 Brexit vote, the 2017 French Presidential elections, the 2017 German Parliamentary elections, the 2016 constitutional referendum in Italy and in the Dutch referendum on the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine. Extensive evidence confirms that Russia did meddle in the 2016 US presidential elections, specifically aiming to damage Hillary Clinton's campaign and aid Republican candidate Donald Trump. In the US, 126 millions of users were reached by Russia-linked users, 29 millions of them have seen the content "directly". Likewise, Russian state efforts to affect the outcome of the Brexit vote are well-documented, both in news reports and parliamentary enquiries. Investigations were conducted as well as by journalists. For more information on Russia's interference in Western democratic processes, see the EU vs Disinfo EU Elections 2019 page. See similar cases claiming that Russia has not interfered in British elections nor in the elections of any country and that the notion of “Russian influence” in the US is an absurd conspiracy theory.