Disinfo: NATO promised Russia it would not expand after the Cold War

Summary

In 1989 NATO promised Russia it would not expand after the Cold War.

Mikhail Gorbachev knew: If East Germany joins NATO, the Eastern European countries could then follow this example. But the West assured him at the time that the alliance would not expand.

Disproof

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

NATO Allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO. Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement.

In addition, NATO's "Open Door Policy" is based on Article 10 of the Alliance's founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty (1949). The Treaty states that NATO membership is open to any "European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area".

Moreover, at the time of the alleged promise, the Warsaw Pact still existed. Its members did not agree on its dissolution until 1991. The idea of their accession to NATO was not on the agenda in 1989. 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 wasn't 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 didn't bring it up, either".

The Russian narrative that NATO, a defensive alliance, is de facto aggressive is not new. Read more in this 2015 Tagespigel analysis.

See more disinformation cases on NATO.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 144
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/04/2019
  • Outlet language(s) German
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia
  • Keywords: security threat, West, Cold War, EU/NATO enlargement, NATO, Russophobia
see more

Ukrainian army is guilty for provocations and shelling on election day

The Ukrainian army tried to provoke militants of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” to return fire, in order to disrupt the electoral process near the front-line. Also, the Ukrainian army is accused of shelling Horlovka.

Disproof

A recurrent, pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative around the elections in Ukraine. Unfounded claims on shelling, supported only by statements from militants from the so-called the “Donetsk People's Republic”. The shelling mentioned is not documented in any way. The report of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine does not confirm such statements. “According to the Mission’s observations, the situation in the regions of Ukraine was calm during the presidential elections”, the report says. Further debunking on StopFake.org.

The West does not want the war in Ukraine to end

The Western community is concerned that the war in Ukraine could end after the Ukrainian presidential elections. One of the myths of German foreign policy is the idea that Chancellor Angela Merkel is striving for peace in the Ukrainian conflict.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the war in Ukraine. The European Union supports Ukraine in ensuring a stable, prosperous and democratic future for all its citizens. The EU is unwavering in its support for the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty and sees the full implementation of the Minsk agreements as the basis for a sustainable, political solution to the conflict in the east of the country. Moreover, not only the EU in general, but also the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in particular, repeatedly stressed out that there is "no military solution" to the conflict in Ukraine.

Despite promises made to Gorbachev, NATO expanded to include former USSR and Warsaw Pact countries

At the time of German reunification, NATO promised Gorbachev that it would not expand to the East in the case the USSR gave up the Warsaw Pact and allowed the fall of Berlin wall.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation that NATO had promised that the Alliance would not expand to the East. NATO Allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO. Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement. In addition, NATO's "Open Door Policy" is based on Article 10 of the Alliance's founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty (1949). The Treaty states that NATO membership is open to any "European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area". Moreover, at the time of the alleged promise, the Warsaw Pact still existed. Its members did not agree on its dissolution until 1991. The idea of their accession to NATO was not on the agenda in 1989. 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 wasn't 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 didn't bring it up, either". The Russian narrative that NATO, a defensive alliance, is de facto aggressive is not new. Read more in this 2015 Tagespigel analysis. See more disinformation cases on NATO.