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Russia’s Top 5 Myths About NATO

Read the facts and the truth

Russia has a long and chequered history with NATO.

Throughout Russian society and government, a tangible uneasiness is present.

This is largely due to many myths about the organisation founded in 1949.

Here you may read what NATO itself tells about Russia’s top 5 myths about the alliance:

Myth 1

NATO has outlived its purpose after the Cold War.

NATO has helped to create and preserve stability in Europe for decades. After the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet empire, there was new optimism in Europe, and former adversaries banded together to create NATO and the EU, while Russia became a partner.

NATO’s mission evolved, not only maintaining it’s collective defence, but stepping up to manage conflicts further afield such as in the Balkans or Afghanistan.

The world is a more dangerous place today than it has been in decades, for many partners, that’s a reason to seek NATO membership.

Myth 2

NATO is encircling Russia

This myth bypasses simple geographic logic. The land border of Russia is over 20,000 kilometres long. Of that, less than one-sixteenth (1,215km) is with NATO members. 14 countries share land borders with Russia, and only five of those are NATO members.

NATO has a military presence in three places outside the alliance, Kosovo, Afghanistan and off the Horn of Africa, with all operations carried out with a UN mandate. Conversely, Russia has military bases and soldiers in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, all without the consent of their own governments.

Myth 3

NATO has violated the NATO-Russia Founding Act

By signing the NATO-Russia Founding Act, Russia pledged not to threaten or use force against NATO Allies and any other state. It has broken this commitment with its annexation of Crimea, and its continued support of militants in eastern Ukraine.

NATO, on the other hand, when deploying battalions to the east of the Alliance, they agreed they would be rotational and below any reasonable definition of “substantial combat forces”.

Myth 4

NATO missile defense targets Russia

NATO’s missile defence system is not directed against Russia. Geography and physics make it impossible for the NATO system to shoot down Russian intercontinental missiles. Their capabilities are too limited, their planned numbers too few and their locations too far south to do so.

Myth 5

NATO is preparing for war with Russia

NATO is a defensive alliance, with the purpose of protecting member states. They do not outwardly seek confrontation or war. All military exercises are announced well in advance and are subject to international observation. The plans for more forces in the Baltic States and Poland are in response to the changing environment after the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Text and photo: NATO.org