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NATO Expansion: A New Detailed Timeline

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jun 14, 2024 - 08:50 PM

The official website of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has since January of this year featured an entire page which seeks to "debunk" what it calls "Russian disinformation on NATO". 

The series of "myths" that the official NATO page sets out to dispel in one section mocks the very term "NATO expansion"strongly suggesting that it's so misleading, the words shouldn't even be used in conversation or in media reporting.

Here is what NATO claims as part of its 'debunking' and setting forth of 'facts'...

The wording “NATO expansion” is already part of the myth. NATO did not hunt for new members or want to “expand eastward.” NATO respects every nation’s right to choose its own path. NATO membership is a decision for NATO Allies and those countries who wish to join alone.

Via Reuters

In recent days Terry Cowan - a geopolitical commentator and Lecturer of History at University of Texas at Tyler - has compiled a new and very helpful timeline documenting the history of NATO's eastward expansion to Russia's doorstep

Below is professor Cowan's NATO Expansion: A Timeline.

* * *

There is an official narrative to our war with Russia through Ukrainian proxies. To be sure, Russian troops did cross the Ukrainian border, and territorial integrity is important to us, except, of course, when it isn’t.  President Biden enunciated it on the day Russian troops poured over the Ukrainian border:

"This was never about genuine security concerns on their part. It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire  by any means necessary–by bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, by changing  borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause."

Biden has reiterated that view, certainly less articulately, in recent days at the D-Day observances in Normandy, but the basic outline is still there, to-wit:

  1. Our heavy involvement in Ukraine since 1991 did nothing to contribute to the conflict.

  2. Russia’s security concerns about the advancement of NATO eastward are silly.

  3. There are bullies in the world, but the bully is never us.

  4. Although the 4th largest economy in the world (in purchasing power), Russia still longs to recreate the Soviet Union.

  5. Russia is corrupt, although their current leader is elected, while Ukraine is not corrupt, although their current leader rules by martial law.

  6. Changing borders is wrong, when Russia does it. When we do it (Kosovo), it is for humanitarian reasons.

  7. No actions by the West or Ukraine over 8 years against Russian speakers in the Donbass that resulted in 14,000 deaths provide any justification for Russia’s actions.

  8. Russia is bad, the West is good.

So there you have it. This is our official narrative. This aligns with our sentiments and comforts our ideological prejudices, even if it is lacks much in the way of self-awareness.

There is another narrative, however; one that is not ideologically-driven and is buttressed by actual facts. That is the story Glenn Diesen tells in The Ukraine War & the Eurasian World Order. What I have done is to construct a Time Line of NATO expansion, taken from Diesen’s narrative. I find it compelling. 

NATO Expansion: A Timeline

From: The Ukraine War & the Eurasian World Order by Glenn Diesen (Atlanta: Clarity Press, Inc., 2024)

1975

The Helsinki Accords

Outlined a common framework for European security

1987

George Kennan: 

“Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial complex would have to go on, substantially unchanged until some other adversary could be invented.  Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”

1989

“Common European Home”

Gorbachev’s plan to demilitarize Europe by disbanding both the Warsaw Pact & NATO

“Europe Whole and Free”

The U.S. rejected Gorbachev’s plan; offers universalism of liberal democracy as the foundation for a common Europe

Malta Summit

Negotiated end to the Cold War; Russia would not use military to suppress democracy movements in eastern Europe; Russia agreed to unification of Germany; the U.S. (Bush & SoS James Baker) promised NATO would expand “not one inch eastward.”  These promises were not only  made by Bush & Baker, but by Hans-Dietrich Genscher (the West German foreign minister), Helmut Kohl, Robert Gates, Francois Mitterrand, Margaret Thatcher, Douglas Hurd, John Major, and Manfred Wörner.

1990

The Charter of Paris for a New Europe

Based on Helsinki Accords, sovereign equality with no dividing lines, to preserve principles of CoP, NATO would have to remain a status quo power

1994

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Translated Helsinki Accords & Charter of Paris into an actual security organization; dismissed by the U.S.

1994

The U.S. began to pursue NATO expansion under old slogan “Europe Whole and Free”; the West failed to reform/transform itself after end of Cold War–became fundamentally militaristic with the assumption of superiority in light of Russia’s weakness.

1994

“Partnership for Peace”

President Clinton advocated this as an alternative to NATO expansion; instead became stepping-stone t0 NATO membership. “Clinton was talking out of both sides of his mouth.”  Boris Yeltsin saw this as the beginning of a new split in Europe. Secretary of Defense William Perry argued against expansion, but was met with response of “Who cares what they think?  They’re a third-rate power.”

1994

Boris Yeltsin

“History demonstrates that it is a dangerous illusion to suppose that the destinies of continents and of the world community in general can somehow be managed from single capital.”

1995

20 former U.S. officials wrote open letter opposing NATO expansion, “convincing most  Russians that the United States and the West are attempting to isolate, encircle and subordinate them, rather than integrating them into a new European system of collective security.”

1996

President Clinton:

“We keep tellin ol’ Boris, ‘O.K., now, here’s what you’ve got to do next–here’s some more shit for your face.”

1997

50 prominent U.S. foreign policy experts sent letter to President Clinton warning that NATO expansion “is a policy error of historic proportions.”

George Kennan: 

“expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold war era…Why with all the hopeful possibilities engendered by the end of the cold war, should East-West relations become centered on the question of who would be allied with whom and, by implication, against whom.”

1997

Ambassador Jack Matlock argued that Washington repeated the same mistake made at Versailles in 1919 by excluding Russian and establishing a security order that would perpetuate the weakness of Russia.

1997

Madeleine Albright: 

“...if Russia doesn’t work out the way that we are hoping it will…NATO is there.” 

The justification of NATO’s post-Cold War existence was therefore to respond to the security threats that had been created by its expansion.

Former Secretary of State James Baker warned that the purported need for an insurance policy could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.:  “The best way to find an enemy is to look for one, and I worry that that is what we are doing when we try to isolate Russia.”

Ambassador Jack Matlock:

“May well go down in history as the most profound strategic blunder made since the end of the Cold War.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski

“Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”

1998

George Kennan:

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war…There was no reason for this whatsoever.  No one was threatening anybody else.  This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves…Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are–but this is just wrong.” 

1999

NATO invasion of Yugoslavia

NATO represents European security and can supersede international law.  Henry Kissinger warned that this transformation of NATO from a defensive alliance into an offensive alliance contradicted our repeated assurances to Russia that they had nothing to fear from a NATO expansion.

NATO occupies Kosovo

NATO obtains UN mandate to occupy the Kosovo region of Yugoslavia under the specific condition of upholding Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity.  Used as venue for NATO base in the Balkans, and to change realities on the ground.  

On the last day of the year, Boris Yeltsin steps down and handed presidency over to his prime minister, Vladimir Putin.

2001

The U.S. announced it would unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 AMB Treaty, in order to develop strategic missile defense, a “preemptive counterforce capability against Russia and China.

9/11: Putin is the first foreign leader to contact George W. Bush, offers sympathy & support; provided important intelligence and logistical network support for the invasion of Afghanistan.

2004

Color Revolutions

The U.S. promoted successful coups around Russia’s periphery:  Ukraine & Georgia. Orange Revolution in Ukraine:  popular demands for democratic reforms and tackling corruption were hijacked by international NGOs (NED, Freedom House, USAID); “an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing…” a “postmodern coup d’état…CIA-sponsored third world uprising of cold war days adapted to post-Soviet conditions.”

“Single Economic Space”

Proposal by Russia to include Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan; denounced in the West as an expression of “imperial ambitions” that had to be resisted.

2005

Common Spaces Agreement

Committed both Russia and EU to preventing new dividing lines; regional cooperation.

2007

Munich Security Conference

Putin summarizes Russia’s concerns about “one centre of authority, one centre of Force, one centre of decision-making…that NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders…against whom is this expansion intended?”

Condoleezza Rice

Mocked Russia’s concerns about the U.S. placing 10 interceptive missiles in Eastern Europe:  “purely ludicrous, and everybody knows it.”  Within a few years, the number had risen to several hundred.

2008

Moscow proposed new pan-European security architecture; opposed by West as feared it would weaken NATO.

NATO Bucharest Summit

“We agreed today that these countries [Ukraine and Georgia] will become members of NATO.” A Gallup poll taken in Ukraine at the time revealed that 46% valued closer ties to Russia, while only 10% favored closer ties with the U.S. over Russia.

Ambassador William Burns

“Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s Influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences Which would seriously affect Russian security interests…Russia is particularly worried  that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war.  In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”

“Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin)...I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests…Today’s Russia will respond.”

British Ambassador Roderic Lyne

“It was stupid on every level. If you want to start a war with Russia, that’s the best way of doing it.” 

Fiona Hill

She warned Bush that “bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO as a provocative move that would likely provoke pre-emptive Russian military action. But ultimately, our warnings weren’t heeded.”

Angela Merkel

Russia would view this as a “declaration of war.”

2010

Moscow proposes EU-Russia Free Trade Zone “to facilitate a Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”  Dismissed as sinister plot to divide the West.

President Yanukovich approved a bill that cemented Ukraine’s neutrality:  “intention of becoming a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs.”

2013 

The EU pressured Ukraine to drop its neutral stance and offered the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area instead; effectively an ultimatum to choose either the West or Russia.   Russia countered with trilateral EU-Uraine-Russia agreement which the EU rejected out of hand, “the times for limited sovereignty are over in Europe.”

Hillary Clinton

On the Eurasian Economic Union:  “We are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

2014

National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

“Ukraine is the biggest prize…Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

Coup

Victoria Nuland:  “the U.S. had invested almost $5 billion since 1991 to assist Ukraine in achieving ‘the future it deserves.’”  Nuland caught deciding who should be in the new Ukrainian government and who should be kept out, at a time when Yanukovich was still the lawful president of Ukraine.”

“The most overt coup d’état in history”

“In 2014 the United States backed an uprising–in its final stages a violent uprising–against the legitimately elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych, which was pro-Russian.”

Crimea

Vladimir Putin: “They cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our back, presenting us with completed facts.  That’s the way it was with the expansion of NATO, in the east, with the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders.  They always told us the same thing: ‘Well, this doesn’t involve you.’”

Vladimir Putin speech

“After the revolution, the Bolsheviks, for a number of reasons–may God judge them– added large sections of the historical South of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic makeup of the population, and today these areas form the southeast of Ukraine.  Then, in 1954, a decision was made to transfer the Crimean region to Ukraine, along with Sevastopol, despite the fact that it was a city of union subordination.  This was the personal initiative of the Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev.

Henry Kissinger

“...if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other-it should function as a bridge between them…any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other–as has often been the pattern–would lead eventually to civil war or break up.”

“Washington’s planned seizure of Russia’s historic, legitimate warm-water naval base in Crimea failed.”

Washington’s reference to the sacred principle of territorial integrity in accordance with international law was unconvincing as the West’s rules-based international order had introduced the right to self-determination as a competing principle to territorial integrity.  It was therefore problematic to make a convincing legal case for why the secession of Crimea was different from the secession of Kosovo.

Approximately 75% of Ukraine’s naval personnel defected to Russia or quit the Ukrainian navy.

Stephen Walt

“The real question, however, is why Obama and his advisors thought the United States and the European Union could help engineer the ouster of a democratically elected and pro-Russian leader in Ukraine and expect Vladimir Putin to go along with it.”

In accordance with the rules-based international order, NATO countries refer to liberal democratic norms to exempt themselves from constraints imposed by international law.

2015 

Minsk-2 Agreement

Ukraine, Donbass, Germany, France, Russia agreed to pursue diplomatic reform for Donbass autonomy; never pursued.  Victoria Nuland described Angela Merkel as “defeatist,” John McCain referred to it as “Moscow Bullshit.”

Mikhail Gorbachev

“NATO’s eastward expansion has destroyed the European security architecture as it was defined in the Helsinki Final Act in 1975.  The eastern expansion was a 180-degree reversal, a departure from the decision of the Paris Charter in 1990 taken together by al the European states to put the Cold War behind us for good.  Russian proposals, like the one by former President Dmitri Medvedev that we should sit down together to work on a new security architecture, were arrogantly ignored by the West.  We are now seeing the results.”

2019

The U.S. unilaterally withdraws from the INF Treaty

Russia demanded that the U.S. not place missiles in Ukraine as they had done in  Poland and Romania.

2021

The UK signed a naval agreement with Ukraine.

NATO pushed the prospect of membership for Ukraine

“We reiterate the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance.”

Russia sent the U.S. a draft treaty outlining the conditions to restore security and stability in Europe.  President Biden responded “I don’t accept anyone’s red line.”

2022

Vladimir Putin

“Listen attentively to what I am saying.  It is written into Ukraine’s doctrines that it wants to take Crimea back, by force if necessary.  This is not what Ukrainian officials say in public.  This is written in their documents…Imagine that Ukraine is a NATO country and starts these military operations.  What are we supposed to do?  Fight against the NATO bloc?  Has anyone given at least some thought to this? Apparently not.”

Ambassador Jack Matlock

“The war might have been prevented–probably would have been prevented–if Ukraine had been willing to abide by the Minsk Agreement, recognize the Donbass as an autonomous entity within Ukraine, avoid NATO military advisors, and pledge not to enter NATO.”

John Mearsheimer

“The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis.  The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement.”

President Biden

“This was never about genuine security concerns on their part.  It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire  by any means necessary–by bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, by changing  borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause.”

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg:

“Weapons are the way to peace.”

Through Turkish intermediation, Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement. “Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.”

Boris Johnson came to Kiev with two messages:  “The first is that Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured , not negotiated with.  And the second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they [the UK and the U.S.] are not.

“The war in Ukraine can end only with Valdimir Putin’s defeat.”  President Zelensky invoked a degree making it illegal to negotiate with Putin.  Any political settlement would require the removal of Putin from power.

2023

Victoria Nuland:

“I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like, to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”

The U.S.--with the cooperation of Norway–had attacked the gas pipelines.

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