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Stoltenberg Claims NATO Never Promised Not to Expand

© Sputnik / Vladimir TrefilovRussian and NATO flags
Russian and NATO flags - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.12.2021
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As part of its security proposals, Russia demanded that NATO not expand eastwards or deploy any kind of offensive weapons in Eastern Europe.
NATO never promised not to expand and this follows from a number of international treaties, the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
Stoltenberg referred to NATO's memorandum of association (the so-called Washington Treaty) that says any country can seek membership in the alliance. He also referred to other documents like the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and Paris Charter, along with the NATO-Russia founding act.
"This is a fundamental principle of European security and one that Russia has also subscribed to," Stoltenberg said. "That's not something that we can change through some quotes."
The secretary general also noted that the allies categorically deny making any promises in relation to NATO not expanding.

"Former President [of the USSR Mikhail] Gorbachev said the topic of NATO enlargement had not been raised until German reunification", Stoltenberg said.

The remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference, during which he asserted that the alliance had "deceived" Russia several times and said there were "five waves of NATO enlargement".
"Not a single inch to the East - that's what we were told in the 90s. So what? Cheated. They just cheated insolently", Putin said.
The demands for NATO not to expand eastwards and to not deploy any offensive weapons in countries neighbouring Russia are among the so-called "red lines" that Moscow highlighted for the West in its security proposals.
The said proposals were rolled out by the Russian Foreign Ministry on 17 December, and the Kremlin indicated that it is still awaiting a response from the West in regard to the suggestions.
The security negotiations between Russia and the United States are set to take place in early 2022. Stoltenberg, in his turn, said that the alliance will seek "meaningful" discussions with Moscow early next year, adding that he intends to call a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as soon as possible in 2022.
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