DISINFO: Western leaders vowed NATO would not expand eastwards
What has not been put on paper, history quickly reduces to zero - just like the promise made by then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO will not be expanding to the East.
This is a recurring disinformation narrative from pro-Kremlin outlets alleging that the West deceived the former Soviet Union and subsequently Russia by breaking its promise not to expand NATO to the East.
In reality, these claims are unsubstantiated because there is no trustworthy evidence that any Western leader ever gave assurances to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev about NATO’s pledge not to admit new members. There is no recorded or otherwise documented commitment to this effect. Gorbachev himself denied this claim in an interview in 2014:
“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.”
After the Cold War, the alliance and Moscow established relations of mutual respect, which culminated in the signing of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation in 1997. Section Four of this document contains the following provision:
“The member States of NATO reiterate that they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO's nuclear posture or nuclear policy - and do not foresee any future need to do so.”
This phrase already mentions “new members”, to which Russia agreed back then. The document also reads:
"Provisions of this Act do not provide NATO or Russia, in any way, with a right of veto over the actions of the other nor do they infringe upon or restrict the rights of NATO or Russia to independent decision-making and action.”
It also means that Russia cannot prevent NATO from admitting new members. Likewise, Russia can enter into agreements, such as the CSTO, with other states.
Read more similar disinformation narratives, claiming that NATO pledged not to expand eastwards and that it poses a threat to Russia’s security.