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3 Feb, 2022 17:58

Did NATO lie to Russia?

Talks held in the final days of the USSR have shaped President Vladimir Putin’s views on the current European crisis
Did NATO lie to Russia?

After weeks of talks between Russian and Western diplomats over Moscow’s proposed security guarantees, designed to limit NATO expansion and reduce tension in Europe, documents leaked to Spanish newspaper El Pais have revealed the bloc’s long-awaited response. Amid an ongoing standoff over Ukraine, representatives from Washington and NATO have proposed several measures for de-escalation, including increased transparency about each side’s military plans. The core of the letter, however, was a resounding, if unsurprising, rejection of Moscow’s central request to prohibit the expansion of the US-led military bloc into Ukraine and Georgia.  

Russia’s arguments that NATO’s growth should be limited rest partly on promises that President Vladimir Putin says the West made in the 1990s, assuring Soviet and then Russian negotiators that the organization would not seek to add new member states further east. Western leaders insist that no such guarantees were made, and last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented, “I think the charitable interpretation would be that sometimes we and Russia have different interpretations of history.”

Did the West break promises about NATO expansion? And why is the issue so important to Putin today?