Russian President Vladimir Putin and his senior allies have repeatedly claimed that Western powers broke their promises not to expand NATO with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At his annual end-of-year press conference in Moscow in December, Putin accused NATO of betraying Russia in the 1990s by assuring that it “won’t extend an inch to the east” – talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev On the promises made during the German reunification of the West and the Soviet Union, the Russian leader said.
“They betrayed us – emphatic, clearly. NATO is expanding,” Putin said. He cited former US Secretary of State James Baker as Exhibit One in his indictment and Baker for Gorbachev in 1990 “NATO will not move an inch further east,” he said, citing one comment.
The Russian leader has made repeated claims about the NATO skull, accusing the Western powers of taking advantage of a weakened, disoriented Russia due to the breakup of the Soviet Union. And the West’s alleged trickery and violation of a solemn pledge not to expand has figured prominently as a key component in Putin’s foreign policy narrative that presents Russia as the victim and the victim side.
In a speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, he asked, “What happened to the assurances made by our Western partners after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?”
And then in a 2014 Kremlin speech following Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, he accused Western leaders of “lying to us too many times, making decisions behind our backs, putting a proven fact before us. This is NATO’s east.” Happened with detail.”
After that speech, former US ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pfeiffer said in an essay, “Western leaders pledged never to expand NATO,” but the story “fits so well with the picture that the Russian The leaders seek to portray a oppressed Russia, taken advantage of by others and increasingly isolated – not because of their own actions, but because of a deceitful West’s ploy.”
Most authoritative Western scholars and historians who have studied diplomatic memoranda, minutes of meetings and transcripts issued by both sides since the 1990s, dispute the idea that NATO had made any formal pledges.
And Western leaders strongly opposed Putin’s statement, saying there was never an agreement not to expand NATO into Central Europe. Last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters on the eve of bilateral talks between American and Russian diplomats in Geneva: “NATO promised never to accept new members. The ‘Open Door Policy’ was a key provision of the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 that established NATO.”
Blinken referred reporters in 2014 to comment on Beyond Russia by Mikhail Gorbachev, a multilingual project run by the nonprofit of the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. During the interview, the former Soviet leader was asked why he had not asked for a document to legally encode what Baker had said about not moving “an inch further east”.
what does baker mean
Gorbachev explained that Baker’s remarks were being taken out of context and replied: “The topic of ‘NATO expansion’ was not discussed at all.” But another issue was discussed: “Ensuring that NATO military structures do not advance and that additional armed forces are not deployed in the territory of the then GDR. [German Democratic Republic] After German reunification. It is in this context that Baker’s statement has been made.”
Gorbachev continued, “The final settlement agreement with Germany states that no new military infrastructure will be built in the eastern part of the country; no additional troops will be deployed; no weapons of mass destruction will be placed there. It has been followed in all the years.”
But Gorbachev said in interviews that whatever other countries have decided to join NATO since 1990 was a “violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances given to us in 1990”, although he did not elaborate.
Scholars take Gorbachev to mean that the West portended the coming era as a security cooperation between East and West, with the United States working with Russia on the development of a new, inclusive European security regime. That inclusive security framework did not materialize, although Putin’s critics argue it owes more to Russian adventurism than NATO.
Gorbachev also acknowledged when signing German reunification in May 1990 that there was a possibility of NATO expansion, adding that he was “aware of the intention by many representatives of Eastern European countries to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and later join NATO”. was done.”
American, Soviet, German, British and French documents posted online in 2017 by the National Security Archive at George Washington University in the US capital were declassified, suggesting that Gorbachev had some reason to dissent later.
“The documents show that many national leaders were considering and disapproving of Central and Eastern European membership in NATO in the early 1990s and through 1991, that the discussion of NATO in the context of the German integration talks in 1990 absolutely The situation was also not limited to the East German region,” notes the archive in its evaluation of the posted documents.
Boris Yeltsin became furious when the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Baltic states joined NATO in waves since 1997. Yeltsin rebuked then-US-President Bill Clinton, who said NATO was not breaking promises and argued, as subsequent US administrations have done, that sovereign independent states have the right to choose whether to join the coalition. Or not.
Russian diplomats say the principle that countries can choose their alliances should not eliminate Moscow’s essential security needs and concerns. For Moscow, “the old principles of security on the continent are no longer working. The expansion of NATO has created a new military and political landscape,” Fyodor Lukyanov, an influential Russian international affairs analyst, noted recently.
“Russia must change the system,” he argued in a commentary, suggesting that countries adjacent to Russia “must retain their sovereignty but remain out of the geopolitical fray.”
Western policymakers say that Russia actually accepted expansion when, in 1997, it and NATO signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security. In that political agreement, which was to build East-West trust and to instil habits of consultation and cooperation, NATO committed to avoid stationing permanent substantial combat forces on the territories of former Warsaw Pact states that were in the western had joined the alliance. However, it can move troops in and out to practice and maintain the interoperability and integration of coalition forces.
Yeltsin wanted a Russian veto on any further extensions to the Founding Act, but Western leaders rejected it. NATO has refrained from deploying substantial forces in Central European countries, although some of their leaders have argued that since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Russia has broken commitments made in the Establishment Act in order to form NATO. With the deployment of force, restraint could be shown. , Military buildup and infiltration.