West promised not to expand NATO – Der Spiegel

NATO deceived Russia about expansion and a British document proves it, top German weekly discovers

A newly discovered document from March 1991 shows US, UK, French, and German officials discussing a pledge made to Moscow that NATO would not expand to Poland and beyond. Its publication by the German magazine Der Spiegel on Friday comes as expansion of the US-led bloc has led to a military standoff in Eastern Europe.

The minutes of a March 6, 1991 meeting in Bonn between political directors of the foreign ministries of the US, UK, France, and Germany contain multiple references to “2+4” talks on German unification in which the Western officials made it “clear” to the Soviet Union that NATO would not push into territory east of Germany.

“We made it clear to the Soviet Union – in the 2+4 talks, as well as in other negotiations – that we do not intend to benefit from the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe,” the document quotes US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada Raymond Seitz.

“NATO should not expand to the east, either officially or unofficially,” Seitz added.

A British representative also mentions the existence of a “general agreement” that membership of NATO for eastern European countries is “unacceptable.”

“We had made it clear during the 2+4 negotiations that we would not extend NATO beyond the Elbe [sic],” said West German diplomat Juergen Hrobog. “We could not therefore offer Poland and others membership in NATO.”


Screenshot of the minutes of a March 6, 1991 meeting of US, UK, French and German diplomats discussing NATO and Eastern Europe © screenshot via Kommersant

The minutes later clarified he was referring to the Oder River, the boundary between East Germany and Poland. Hrobog further noted that West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher had agreed with this position as well.

The document was found in the UK National Archives by Joshua Shifrinson, a political science professor at Boston University in the US. It had been marked “Secret” but was declassified at some point.

Shifrinson tweeted on Friday he was “honored” to work with Der Spiegel on the document showing that “Western diplomats believed they had indeed made a NATO non-enlargement pledge.”

Honored to work with @derspiegel's Klaus Wiegrefe in drawing attention to British documents (cc: @UkNatArchives) from 1990-1991 showing senior Western diplomats believed they had indeed made a NATO non-enlargement pledge. Link below:https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/nato-osterweiterung-aktenfund-stuetzt-russische-version-a-1613d467-bd72-4f02-8e16-2cd6d3285295

— Josh Shifrinson (@shifrinson) February 18, 2022

“Senior policymakers deny a non-expansion pledge was offered. This new document shows otherwise,” Shifrinson said in a follow-up tweet, noting that “beyond” the Elbe or Oder by any standard includes Eastern European countries to which NATO started expanding just eight years later.

During a major press conference in December 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the West had promised the Soviet Union NATO would not expand “a single inch” to the east, but “brazenly deceived” and “cheated” Moscow to do just that.

Responding to these comments, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance “has never promised not to expand.” In an interview with Der Spiegel later, Stoltenberg repeated that “there has never been such a promise, there has never been such a behind-the-scenes deal, it is simply not true.”

NATO admitted Poland, Hungary, and Czechia in March 1999, just before launching an air war against Yugoslavia without the permission of the UN Security Council. This put NATO directly on the Russian border – the enclave of Kaliningrad – for the first time ever. The next round of expansion in 2004 included the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, placing NATO’s eastern frontier just 135 kilometers (84 miles) from St. Petersburg.

In a series of security proposals made public in December, Russia demanded NATO publicly renounce expansion to the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia and withdraw US forces to the 1997 boundaries of the bloc, among other things. The US and NATO have rejected this, arguing the alliance’s “open door” membership policy is a fundamental principle for them.

Despite their denials, Western leaders did make a promise to the USSR that NATO would not expand to Central and Eastern Europe when Moscow agreed to Germany’s reunification, Willy Wimmer, a former vice president of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has claimed in an interview with RT on Saturday.

The veteran politician, who served as parliamentary secretary to Germany’s defense minister between 1985 and 1992, said that he personally witnessed this promise when he “sent Chancellor Helmut Kohl the statement on the Bundeswehr in NATO and NATO in Europe, which was completely incorporated into the treaties on reunification.”

Berlin’s decision at that time “not to station NATO troops on the territory of the former East Germany and to stop NATO near the Oder” was part of this promise, Wimmer added.

The bloc has long denied such a promise had ever been made, insisting it has always had an 'open door policy.' However, a document recently published by Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly purportedly shows that the pledge was made, supporting Moscow's claims the commitments were later broken.

The minutes of a March 6, 1991 meeting in Bonn between the political directors of the foreign ministries of the US, UK, France, and Germany on German reunification appear to show that the Western nations made it “clear” to the still-existing Soviet Union that NATO would not expand further to the east.

Wimmer believes that the promises made by the Western leaders in the early 1990s were eventually dashed by the US ambitions formulated in the infamous 1992 ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’.

The ‘doctrine’ was in fact a Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–1999 fiscal years that was leaked to the New York Times at that time and sparked a wave of criticism even in the US itself. The document outlined the policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military actions designed to suppress potential threats and prevent any supposedly authoritarian states from becoming superpowers. The official text of the guidance was then changed following the uproar but many tenets of the ‘doctrine’ still found their way into the former US President George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

Since that time, the US and its allies have been on the “wrong track” as they have been virtually doing everything to create a fairly “justified” impression in Moscow that the Western nations seek to “kick Russia out of Europe, to build a new wall between the Baltic and the Black Sea” and eventually to “destroy” Russia instead of cooperating with it, Wimmer pointed out.

The root of all the current security problems in Europe lies within America’s policy of continuously antagonizing Russia, according to Wimmer. “All the misery we are dealing with started with the United States conducting the policy aimed at kicking Russia out of Europe for the last 20 or almost 30 years,” he said.

As long as the US continues to “do everything to achieve this goal” both through NATO and bilateral agreements, Europe’s security problems can hardly be resolved, Wimmer warned, adding that it was Washington that should fundamentally change its ways.

The former OSCE vice president also echoed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, describing the present state of relations between Russia and the West as a conversation between “a mute” and a “deaf.” Moscow's top diplomat made similar remarks earlier in February following talks with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

The US and its partners in Europe have been “certainly deaf” for decades since they “drew no conclusions” from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s landmark speech at the Munich Security Conference back in 2007, when he showed quite clearly “where the problems lie on the Euro-Asian continent,” Wimmer said.

At that time, the Russian leader warned that US unilateral hegemonism and “uncontained” use of force in international relations erode the global security system and weaken international law. It was also one of the first times he mentioned NATO’s promise to Russia not to expand to the east.


Fifteen years ago in Munich, Vladimir Putin shook the West with a sharp attack on its efforts to bend the world to its will. The West chose not to listen. As the clouds of war gather over Europe, one has to ask if that was wise.

With US officials anonymously briefing journalists that Russia will invade Ukraine within days, one wonders how things came to this. The optimism that prevailed after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union some 30 years ago has been replaced by very real fears of war in Europe. Something went badly wrong. What, precisely?

Roughly at the mid-point between the end of the Cold War and today, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin gave a speech which provides an explanation, and which historians may well look back to as something of a turning point. Delivered to the Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 10, 2007, that’s 15 years ago last week, the speech was interpreted by many as a declaration of war on the West. This was a misinterpretation. Putin didn’t threaten the West with anything. Instead, he simply gave it a warning – if it continued along the same path, it would sow the seeds of its own destruction. Time has perhaps proven him right.

In his speech, Putin made a number of specific complaints. First, he objected to the idea of a unipolar order in which one country, the US, has dominated all others. This model, he said, “is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world.” On the one hand, power was shifting; on the other hand, the unipolar model provided “no moral foundations for modern civilization.”

Second, Putin complained of “an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations.” While he didn’t mention any specific examples, it is likely that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was high on his list.

And third, the Russian president spoke of “a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. … One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.” The result was that “no one feels safe … because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them.”

These complaints have formed the basis of Russian foreign policy discourse ever since, with similar statements cropping up time and again in speeches and official documents. Anybody who had been paying attention at Munich 15 years ago should not have been surprised by subsequent Russian behaviour, as Putin had laid out his objectives very clearly.

Continued at link.


Putin sits at the top of the United Nations

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Vladimir Putin has announced that Moscow has recognized the two self-declared breakaway Donbass republics in Ukraine’s east as sovereign nations, as a military standoff continues to escalate.

Speaking as part of a televised address to the nation on Monday evening, Putin signed the decree, saying that “I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago to immediately recognize the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics.” Lawmakers will now be asked to consider statements of friendship and support with the two regions.

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“They didn’t hear what we told them. They had better hear this time.” — Vladimir Putin

Paul Craig Roberts

Think back to 2014 when the US overthrew the Ukrainian government and installed a neo-Nazi regime. The neocons were smirking, laughing at how easy it was to buffalo the Russians. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland publicly bragged about how the US had spent $5 billion dollars preparing the overthrow of Ukraine. Much cheering of how Ukraine would now be used to destabilize Russia and seize the Russian Black Sea naval base.

After a long frustrating, humiliating 8 years of trying to get the West’s attention that this was not a scheme Russia could accept, and after one last effort which got nowhere, Russia has acted.

In his speech this morning Putin explained the long years of Russian frustration in her efforts to achieve mutual security with the West which remained intent on its own domination. Here are opening words from Putin’s address:

“I consider it necessary today to speak again about the tragic events in Donbass and the key aspects of ensuring the security of Russia.
I will begin with what I said in my address on February 21, 2022. I spoke about our biggest concerns and worries, and about the fundamental threats which irresponsible Western politicians created for Russia consistently, rudely and unceremoniously from year to year. I am referring to the eastward expansion of NATO, which is moving its military infrastructure ever closer to the Russian border.
It is a fact that over the past 30 years we have been patiently trying to come to an agreement with the leading NATO countries regarding the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. In response to our proposals, we invariably faced either cynical deception and lies or attempts at pressure and blackmail, while the North Atlantic alliance continued to expand despite our protests and concerns. Its military machine is moving and, as I said, is approaching our very border.
Why is this happening? Where did this insolent manner of talking down from the height of their exceptionalism, infallibility and all-permissiveness come from? What is the explanation for this contemptuous and disdainful attitude to our interests and absolutely legitimate demands?
The answer is simple. Everything is clear and obvious. In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union grew weaker and subsequently broke apart. That experience should serve as a good lesson for us, because it has shown us that the paralysis of power and will is the first step towards complete degradation and oblivion. We lost confidence for only one moment, but it was enough to disrupt the balance of forces in the world.”

The imbalance of force has been corrected, and since force is all that the West understands, Russia is using force to end the use of Ukraine as a pawn against Russia.
In the past the stupid and arrogant West ignored Russia’s warnings. In his address this morning Putin gave another warning. If the dumbshit Western leaders do not hear this warning, the West will cease to exist:

“I would now like to say something very important for those who may be tempted to interfere in these developments from the outside. No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history. No matter how the events unfold, we are ready. All the necessary decisions in this regard have been taken. I hope that my words will be heard.”


Nato Russia

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" U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu).

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”[1] The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”

President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage (“I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall”) of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests; but neither Bush nor Gorbachev at that point (or for that matter, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl) expected so soon the collapse of East Germany or the speed of German unification.[2]

The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990, when West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher opened the bidding with a major public speech at Tutzing, in Bavaria, on German unification. The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’” The Bonn cable also noted Genscher’s proposal to leave the East German territory out of NATO military structures even in a unified Germany in NATO.[3]

This latter idea of special status for the GDR territory was codified in the final German unification treaty signed on September 12, 1990, by the Two-Plus-Four foreign ministers (see Document 25). The former idea about “closer to the Soviet borders” is written down not in treaties but in multiple memoranda of conversation between the Soviets and the highest-level Western interlocutors (Genscher, Kohl, Baker, Gates, Bush, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Major, Woerner, and others) offering assurances throughout 1990 and into 1991 about protecting Soviet security interests and including the USSR in new European security structures. The two issues were related but not the same. Subsequent analysis sometimes conflated the two and argued that the discussion did not involve all of Europe. The documents published below show clearly that it did.

The “Tutzing formula” immediately became the center of a flurry of important diplomatic discussions over the next 10 days in 1990, leading to the crucial February 10, 1990, meeting in Moscow between Kohl and Gorbachev when the West German leader achieved Soviet assent in principle to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east. The Soviets would need much more time to work with their domestic opinion (and financial aid from the West Germans) before formally signing the deal in September 1990.

The conversations before Kohl’s assurance involved explicit discussion of NATO expansion, the Central and East European countries, and how to convince the Soviets to accept unification. For example, on February 6, 1990, when Genscher met with British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, the British record showed Genscher saying, “The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.” (See Document 2)

Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.

Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.” (See Document 6)

Afterwards, Baker wrote to Helmut Kohl who would meet with the Soviet leader on the next day, with much of the very same language. Baker reported: “And then I put the following question to him [Gorbachev]. Would you prefer to see a united Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no U.S. forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position? He answered that the Soviet leadership was giving real thought to all such options [….] He then added, ‘Certainly any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.’” Baker added in parentheses, for Kohl’s benefit, “By implication, NATO in its current zone might be acceptable.” (See Document 8)"

"At the Washington summit on May 31, 1990, Bush went out of his way to assure Gorbachev that Germany in NATO would never be directed at the USSR: “Believe me, we are not pushing Germany towards unification, and it is not us who determines the pace of this process. And of course, we have no intention, even in our thoughts, to harm the Soviet Union in any fashion. That is why we are speaking in favor of German unification in NATO without ignoring the wider context of the CSCE, taking the traditional economic ties between the two German states into consideration. Such a model, in our view, corresponds to the Soviet interests as well.” (See Document 21)

The “Iron Lady” also pitched in, after the Washington summit, in her meeting with Gorbachev in London on June 8, 1990. Thatcher anticipated the moves the Americans (with her support) would take in the early July NATO conference to support Gorbachev with descriptions of the transformation of NATO towards a more political, less militarily threatening, alliance. She said to Gorbachev: “We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured…. CSCE could be an umbrella for all this, as well as being the forum which brought the Soviet Union fully into discussion about the future of Europe.” (See Document 22)"

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