On May 15, 2022, Webtribune published an article with the title claiming that “Russia has decided” to return NATO to its borders from 1997:
RUSSIA HAS DECIDED, AND THERE IS NO WAY BACK: We will return NATO to its borders from 1997 with all available means
Although it can be deduced from the mentioned title, it is not true that Russia has officially decided anything. In fact, the article cites the statement of one of the representatives of the Russian State Duma, Oleg Morozov, which is presented as an official Russian decision.
The return of NATO to the borders of 1997 is a strategic task for Russia, which will try to implement it with all available means, said the representative of the Russian State Duma, Oleg Morozov.
He also said that due to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, Russia could raise the issue of rejecting the non-nuclear status of the Baltic Sea.
According to the analysis of Meta’s CrowdTangle tool, this article on Webtribune has achieved more than 23,000 interactions on the social network Facebook by the time of writing this analysis. Furthermore, articles about the same statement were published on May 15, 2022, by 12 web portals in the region, with similar titles claiming that it was an official decision by Russia, Moscow or Putin. Some of the titles are the following:
Russia tells the West: We will return NATO to its borders from 1997 with all available means (Nulta tacka)
RUSSIANS SENT A MESSAGE: We will return NATO to its borders from 1997 with all available means (Srbija javlja)
PUTIN DECIDED THERE IS NO GOING BACK: The return of NATO to its borders from 1997 is a strategic task for Russia! (Kurir)
MOSCOW HAS DECIDED, AND THERE IS NO WAY BACK! THE BALTIC REMAINS WITHOUT NON-NUCLEAR STATUS? It is clear from the Duma, “We will return NATO to its borders from ’97 with all available means” Finland, Sweden, who else is under attack? (Informer)
Oleg Morozov Victorovich is a member of the Russian State Duma, one of the chambers of the Russian parliament. The State Duma is part of the legislative power in Russia and consists of 450 members elected for five years. Therefore, Morozov is only one of the 450 members of the State Duma, and his statements do not necessarily represent Moscow’s official policy and certainly do not represent official state decisions.
Morozov made the aforementioned statement to the Russian news agency Ria Novosti, where it was published on May 13, 2022. Although Morozov did state that the return of the NATO alliance to the borders of 1997 is a “strategic goal of Russia”, the Ria Novosti article does not claim that it was Russia’s “decision”.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is a political and military alliance that, at the time of writing this analysis, has 30 member countries. Of the 30 existing members, fourteen joined the Alliance after 1997. These are the Czech Republic (1999), Hungary (1999), Poland (1999), Bulgaria (2004), Estonia (2004), Latvia (2004), Lithuania (2004), Romania (2004), Slovakia (2004), Slovenia (2004), Albania (2009), Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020). The expansion of the NATO alliance after 1997 can be seen from the map published by the BBC.
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine by attacking several cities in this country. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the invasion a “special military operation” whose alleged goal is the denazification of Ukraine and the prevention of the alleged genocide in Donbas. A significant part of the Russian narrative that tries to justify this country’s invasion of Ukraine includes claims that the expansion of the NATO alliance is against the “agreement” and represents a threat to Russia. As our partner web portal Raskrinkavanje from Montenegro stated in an analysis dated February 22, 2022, this narrative is linked to the Soviet politician Mikhail Gorbachev.
A significant element of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which dates back to 2014, is the fact that Russia does not want to allow Ukraine to become a member of the NATO alliance, which Russia demanded in December 2021. As stated in the article dated February 2, 2022, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the USA and NATO rejected Russia’s request from December 2021 and the signing of a bilateral agreement on security in Europe with Russia, as well as closing the door on the future inclusion of Ukraine in NATO.
Therefore, Russia has previously demanded that NATO withdraw its expansion and forces from Eastern Europe and stop further growth. Nevertheless, the mentioned titles indicate the existence of a current decision, a kind of threat that Russia will use all available means to return the NATO alliance to its borders from 1997. This is not true. Such a decision was not announced on the Kremlin’s official channel, nor was it publicly announced by any Russian official.
Therefore, headlines claiming that there is an official decision by Russia, Moscow or Putin to use all means to “return NATO to its borders from 1997” we rate as disinformation. We also rate these articles as clickbait since the claims from these titles are not found further in the text.