The National Security Archive blog of declassified materials at George Washington U.:
NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev HeardYou know, Mr. Gorbachev, you kinda shoulda got that in writing.
Published: Dec 12, 2017
Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton
Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner
Slavic Studies Panel Addresses “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?”
Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – 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.”
Nonetheless, you have to see the Russians’ point when you look at a map. NATO has shoved right up against Russia’s borders by adding Latvia and Estonia. That would have been kind of like Quebec joining the Warsaw Pact in 1981. Do you think Reagan would have been happy about that?
And NATO’s “Intensified Dialogue” with Georgia and Ukraine (green) is provocative, even when Georgia isn’t starting a tank war with Russia, as in 2008. Look how much further east Ukraine goes than Belarus does. (Ukraine also goes further west than Belarus.) Is it any wonder the Moscow is not happy with American meddling in Ukraine? Adding Ukraine to NATO would be kind of like Ontario or even Texas joining the Warsaw Pact.