Disinfo: NATO promised not to expand further east

Summary

If NATO fails to fulfill its promise not to expand further east, Russia will have to take measures and react accordingly by increasing its military spending.

Disproof

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

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 from 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.

Also, NATO does not "expand" in the imperialistic sense as described by pro-Kremlin media. Rather, it considers the applications of candidate countries who want to join the Alliance based on their own national will. NATO enlargement is not directed against Russia.

See similar cases claiming that Gorbachev was promised that NATO would not “expand eastwards” and that the expansion of NATO to the East is military aggression.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 225
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/12/2020
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: EU/NATO enlargement, Encircling Russia, 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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