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
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Russia, US, Germany
  • Keywords: Mikhail Gorbachev, EU/NATO enlargement, Encircling Russia, USSR, Anti-Russian, NATO

Disclaimer

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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