A formerly classified 1991 document retrieved from the British national archive shows Western states did commit to the non-expansion of NATO eastward, Germany’s Spiegel reports.
The document depicts the talks between high-ranking officials from the United States, the UK, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in Bonne on March 6, 1991. According to the newspaper, it provides evidence that the Western states agreed that membership of Eastern European states in the alliance is unacceptable
, meaning that Russia’s current grievances with NATO’s expansion eastwards are totally justified.
The US’ Raymond Seitz reportedly agreed with Chrobog, saying, “We made it clear to the Soviet Union that we will not [capitalize on] the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Eastern Europe...NATO must not expand eastwards neither officially, nor inofficially.”
For years, Russia has insisted that NATO states broke their vow not to move the military alliance toward the Russian borders. What’s more, at the NATO summit in 2016, Russia was — for the first time officially — declared a direct threat to the alliance’s security.
The document has surfaced just as Russia and NATO states are in a row over what constitutes European security. In late December, Moscow shared its own security guarantee proposals with NATO and the United States, which specifically prioritize non-expansion of NATO eastwards and non-deployment of offensive weapons near the Russian borders, as well as shifting alliance forces
in Eastern Europe to the positions of 1997.
In 1997, Russia and NATO signed the Founding Act, under which the alliance pledged to “carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.” However, three former Warsaw pact members – Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic – joined NATO right away in 1999, followed by Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia, as well as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Slovenia in 2004.
Since the 1990s, that is after the end of the Cold War, NATO’s expansion has been the largest
to date, both in terms of the number of newly admitted members and in terms of the alliance's influence. Now, NATO is using the Ukrainian government's provocations
and accusations of an allegedly looming “invasion”
as a pretext to further boost its presence around Russia.