History Of NATO Expansion Map

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, gave some of the history that led up to Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine—notably his alliance’s decision to continue its march eastward. 

Stoltenberg, who has emerged as a top war hawk from the West, addressed EU Parliament officials earlier this month and recalled the autumn of 2021, when Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a draft treaty asking the alliance to stop its enlargement. Putin’s hope was that NATO leadership would sign the agreement. 

For decades, Russia has seen the expansion of NATO as a threat and Ukraine’s membership its ultimate red line. 

Stoltenberg called the draft treaty a “precondition” from Russia that promised it would not invade Ukraine if signed. 

“Of course, we didn’t sign that,” he said, according to 

Stoltenberg seemed to take something of a victory lap and said Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, led to even more NATO enlargement. 

“So he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders,” he said. “He has got the exact opposite. He has got more NATO presence in the eastern part of the alliance and he has also seen that Finland has already joined the alliance and Sweden will soon be a full member.” (Sweden’s membership has been held up by Hungary and Turkey.) 

The AntiWar article noted that Stotlenberg’s analysis is a complete contradiction to the U.S.’s claim that Russia’s invasion was “unprovoked.”

TRENDPOST: John Mearsheimer, a distinguished professor in political science at the University of Chicago, and Sebastian Rosato, the professor of political science at Notre Dame, penned a column last week titled, “The Russian Invasion Was a Rational Act.”

They noted how—in the early days of the invasion—Putin was described as a madman. They quoted Nina Khruschcheva, a Russia expert, who said, “with his unprovoked assault, Mr. Putin joins a long line of irrational tyrants.”

Part of the reason that many in the West considered Putin irrational, was the thought that he would be unable to emerge victorious from the conflict. But the two scholars note that rationality “is not about outcomes. Rational actors often fail to achieve their goals, not because of foolish thinking but because of factors they can neither anticipate nor control.”


But they wrote that Putin’s concerns about Ukraine is not a “lone wolf” theory. It is shared in Russia—and understood by some in the West, like William Burns, the current CIA director who once served as ambassador to Russia. In 2008, he called Ukraine’s entry into NATO the “the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests… I can conceive of no grand package that would allow the Russians to swallow this pill quietly.”

Ukraine is mainly flat farmland and has been used by Napoleon, Imperial Germany, and Nazi Germany to stage attacks under Moscow’s soft underbelly.

Thomas Friedman, The New York Times columnist, wrote an article back in May 1998—the year Poland became a member of the alliance—that included a quote from George Kennan, a diplomat credited for his strategy of U.S. Cold War containment: 

“I think this is the beginning of a new Cold War. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. Of course, there’s going to be a bad reaction from Russia and then [NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are—but that is just wrong.”

He wrote that Russia, in turn, will turn to countries like Iran and China to counter the development. Kennan wrote in his diary that NATO expansion was the “greatest mistake of the entire post-Cold War period” and called it a “colossal blunder.”

His warning did not stop Warsaw, the Czech Republic, and Hungary from being added to the Alliance in 1999 and then countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Romania in 2004.

TRENDPOST: Former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev was promised back in 1989 that NATO would not reach farther east than the German border, but that has proven to be a lie and there are now NATO missiles 100 miles from the Russian border in Poland.

Chris Hedges, the independent journalist, wrote that there was a brief time of hope that the world could spend money on social projects instead of the massive military complex, but that proved to be wishful thinking.

The war industry acted fast to urge countries like Poland, Hungary, and Latvia to join the alliance to reap the benefits of having to militarize these countries to meet NATO’s standards. Hedges wrote that many of these smaller countries took out monster loans in their efforts.

He said NATO’s expansion was swift, Russia became the enemy again, and now there is a NATO missile system in a base in Poland 100 miles from the Russian border.

“War, after all, it’s a business, a very lucrative one. It is why we spent two decades in Afghanistan although there was universal consensus after a few years of fruitless fighting that we had waded into the quagmire we could never win,” he wrote.

He also pointed to the Clinton administration’s promise in 1997 to Moscow that no combat troops would be stationed in Eastern Europe, but he wrote that the promise turned out to be a lie.

TRENDPOST: Long forgotten was the U.S. and NATO’S pledge not to expand into Eastern Europe following the deal made during the 1990 negotiations between the West and the Soviet Union over German unification.

Therefore, in the view of Russia, it is taking self-defense actions to protect itself from NATO’s eastward march.

As detailed in The Los Angeles Times back in May of 2016, while the U.S. and NATO deny that no such agreement was struck, “…hundreds of memos, meeting minutes and transcripts from U.S. archives indicate otherwise.” The article states:

“According to transcripts of meetings in Moscow on Feb. 9, then-Secretary of State James Baker suggested that in exchange for cooperation with Germany, the U.S. could make ‘iron-clad guarantees’ that NATO would not expand ‘one inch eastward.’ Less than a week later, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to begin reunification talks.

“No formal deal was struck, but from all the evidence, the quid pro quo was clear: Gorbachev acceded to Germany’s western alignment and the U.S. would limit NATO’s expansion.”

TRENDPOST: In 1997, when President Bill Clinton was expanding NATO’s borders eastward, fifty American foreign policy leaders sent him a letter saying that it would be “a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability,” and “NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement… .”

June 26, 1997
Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned, believe that the current U.S.-led effort to expand NATO, the focus of the recent Helsinki and Paris Summits, is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability for the following reasons:

In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance in the Duma to the START II and III treaties; In Europe, NATO expansion will draw a new line of division between the “ins” and the “outs,” foster instability, and ultimately diminish the sense of security of those countries which are not included;

In NATO, expansion, which the Alliance has indicated is open-ended, will inevitably degrade NATO’s ability to carry out its primary mission and will involve U.S. security guarantees to countries with serious border and national minority problems, and unevenly developed systems of democratic government;

In the U.S., NATO expansion will trigger an extended debate over its indeterminate, but certainly high, cost and will call into question the U.S. commitment to the Alliance, traditionally and rightly regarded as a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy.

Because of these serious objections, and in the absence of any reason for rapid decision, we strongly urge that the NATO expansion process be suspended while alternative actions are pursued. These include: 

—opening the economic and political doors of the European Union to Central and Eastern Europe;
—developing an enhanced Partnership for Peace program;
—supporting a cooperative NATO-Russian relationship; and
—continuing the arms reduction and transparency process, particularly with respect to nuclear weapons and materials, the major threat to U.S. security, and with respect to conventional military forces in Europe.

Russia does not now pose a threat to its western neighbors and the nations of Central and Eastern Europe are not in danger. For this reason, and the others cited above, we believe that NATO expansion is neither necessary nor desirable and that this ill-conceived policy can and should be put on hold.


George Bunn​Townsend Hoopes​Sam Nunn
Robert Bowie​Gordon Humphrey​Herbert S. Okun
Bill Bradley​​Fred Ikle​​​W.K.H. Panofsky
David Calleo​Bennett Johnston​Christian Patte
Richard T. Davies​​Carl KaysenRichard Pipes
Jonathan Dean​Spurgeon Keeny​​Robert E. Pursley
Paul Doty​​James Leonard​​George Rathjens
Susan Eisenhower​Edward Luttwak​Stanley Resor
David M. Evans​Michael Mandelbaum​John Rhinelander
David Fischer​Jack F. Matlock Jr.​John J. Shanahan
Raymond Garthoff​C. William Maynes​Marshall Shulman
Morton H. Halperin​Richard McCormack​John Steinbruner
Owen Harries​David McGiffert​​Stansfield Turner
Gary Hart​​Robert McNamaraArthur Hartman
Richard Viets​Mark HatfieldPaul Warnke​
Jack Mendelsohn​John P. HoldrenJames D. Watkins​
Paul H. NitzePhilip Merrill​

This letter—signed by top U.S. government officials and politicians—has been totally ignored by the U.S. media and the White House who continually promote NATO expansion while ignoring the consequences as they violate the February 1990 U.S.-Russia agreement that NATO would not expand “one inch.”  

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