Since Russia began its aggressive actions against Ukraine, Russian officials have accused NATO of a series of threats and hostile actions. This webpage sets out the facts.
Top Five Russian Myths Debunked
Fact: This is a clear attempt to distract from Russia’s responsibility for the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Russia continues to develop and deploy an intermediate-range missile known as the 9M729, or SSC-8. These missiles are mobile and hard to detect. They can reach European cities with little warning, carrying conventional or nuclear warheads, and they lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.
The United States and other Allies have engaged with Russia about this missile system for several years. Unfortunately, Russia showed no willingness and took no steps to comply with its international obligations, leading to the demise of the INF Treaty on August 2, 2019.
NATO will respond in a measured and responsible way to the significant risks posed by Russia’s SSC-8 system. Allies remain firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. We do not want a new arms race, and we have no intention to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.
Fact: NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect our member states. Our exercises are not directed against Russia – or any other country.
We announce our military exercises well in advance and they are subject to international observation. For instance, Trident Juncture 2018, NATO’s largest exercise in decades, was announced in 2013 and briefed in advance at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.
Russia, like all OSCE member states, was invited to send observers to Trident Juncture, in line with the Vienna Document on military transparency. Observers received briefings on the exercise, opportunities to speak to troops, and an aerial overflight of the area of military activity.
NATO strongly supports efforts to build confidence and transparency on military activities and exercises. Our schedule of military exercises is available to all online
Fact: Today, we face the most unpredictable security situation in many years – including a more assertive Russia, cyber and hybrid threats, instability across the Middle East and North Africa, and a continued terrorist threat. All NATO Allies understand that in an unpredictable world, we need to invest in our security.
In response to a changed security environment, Allies pledged in 2014 to stop cuts to their defence budgets, increase defence spending, and move towards investing 2% of their GDP on defence within a decade. Since then, we have seen five consecutive years of growth in defence expenditure across Europe and Canada. This is about ensuring we have the capabilities we need to protect our populations against any threat, from any direction.
Fact: NATO troops are well trained, disciplined and professional. During their deployments, we count on our forces to live up to the highest standards of conduct, both on and off duty. Our forces are accountable and respect the rule of law.
NATO forces in the eastern part of our Alliance are deployed at the request of the host nations, and enjoy significant public support. A recent Gallup poll found that most people in Allied countries in the Baltic region associate NATO with the protection of their country.
Fact: It is important to remember why NATO suspended practical cooperation with Russia in 2014. We took this decision because of Russia's actions against Ukraine, including the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.
Russia has shown it is willing to use military force against its neighbours. Russian forces are in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova against the will of those governments. In recent years, we have seen a pattern of dangerous behaviour from Russia – including cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns and attempts to interfere in our democratic processes. Russia has also regularly failed to be transparent about its military exercises.
NATO has a dual track approach to Russia: strong deterrence and defence, and meaningful dialogue. We don’t want a new Cold War or a new arms race. However, for our relationship to improve, Moscow has to respect its international obligations. We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible.
More Myths Debunked