Did West Promise to Gorby Not to Expand NATO Eastward?

Pr. Itzkowitz of A&M Texas has published an op-ed in FA on how West broke promise not to expand NATO, in which rejects claims promise applied to GDR only. See here:
I concur with Pr. Itzkowitz's assessment.My analysis of transcripts of negotiations over unification of Germany, as well as of other documents and memoirs of the negotiators has led me to conclude that what Western leaders offered to Mikhail Gorbachev ad verbatim was to refrain from expansion of NATO eastward, rather than from expansion of NATO just to GDR. In those conversations,  I found quite a few of proposals made by Western side that they would not be expansion “to the east" or "eastward." Therefore, if held accountable for what they proposed ad verbatim, Western leaders would have to concede they offered that NATO won’t expand to the east in general rather than to GDR only (even though they meant GDR only as at that time expansion of NATO to rest of Warsaw Pact seemed unfanthomable). We know that when offered no expansion of NATO Gorby chose not to pocket that offer. Nowhere in transcripts of negotiations could I find a hint that Soviet leadership offered to put that offer in writing or codify it in some other way. My suspicion was that, perhaps, Gorbachev was seeking a better deal and that if he were to accept the offer; the West would offer nothing else in addition. In the end, Gorbachev miscalculated – as time went by, USSR's economic woes worsened to such an extent, that US and Western German leaders realized they didn't even have to commit to refrain from expansion, withdrew informal offer and offered just loans instead. Gorbachev,  has recently claimed that the offer applied to GDR only, but I suspect he is making such a claim to cover his own miscalculation rather than tell the truth.
I. Promises Offered by Jim Baker:
February 1990:
·       Transcript of the conversation between M. Gorbachev and then US Secretary of State J. Baker on February 9, 1990 contains the following passage: “Baker: We think that the consultations and discussions within the 2+4[1] should give guarantees that unification of Germany will not lead to expansion of the military organization of NATO to the East[2]…Assuming that unification will take place, what would you prefer: a unified Germany out of NATO, fully independent, with no American troops or a unified, which keeps ties to NATO, but there is also the guarantee that neither jurisdiction of forces of NATO will expand eastward beyond the current line Gorbachev: We will think all of this through. We intend to discuss these issues in depth at the leadership level. Of course, it is clear that expansion of the zone of NATO is unacceptable. Baker: We agree with this.”
·       Baker took handwritten notes of his own remarks during the February 9 meeting, adding stars next to the key words: “End result: Unified Ger. anchored in a ´changed (polit.) NATO — ´whose juris. would not move ´eastward!” [3]
·       Baker told Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze that if and unified Germany enters NATO, then the Soviet Union will receive firm guarantees that “jurisdiction of NATO and its troops will not expand eastward.”  Gorbachev then told Baker: “One thing is clear: any expansion of NATO is inadmissible.” “I agree,” Baker immediately responded.[4]
May 1990: Baker told  Gorbachev in May 1990 that ‘‘we understand that it would be important not only for the USSR but also for other European countries to have a guarantee that if the United States maintains its military presence in Germany within the NATO framework, there will be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction or military presence one inch to the East…. would you prefer a united Germany outside NATO and completely independent with no American troops [on its soil] or a united Germany that maintains its ties with NATO, but with a guarantee that NATO’s jurisdiction and forces will not extend to the East beyond the current line?”[5] Again, according to Kramer, [6] Baker was referring to East Germany only. According to Strobe Talbott, however, Baker was offering a guarantee that after incorporating East Germany NATO “would stop there.”[7]
§  I’d note that  Baker is more evasive on the issue in his memoirs, than in the notes he wrote when discussing the issue with the Soviet leadership[8] or in words he said, as recalled by Talbott[9]. Specifically Baker wrote the following in the Year 1990 section of his 1995 “Politics of Diplomacy” memoirs: “In addition to the Chancellor (Kohl) said, “NATO units, including Bundeswehr forces dedicated to NATO, cannot be stationed on East German soil….We agreed that when referring to GDR territory, we should the term forces, not jurisdiction. Following my meeting with Hans-Dietrich Genscher in Washington earlier in the month, I had begun to say that “NATO jurisdiction” or “jurisdiction of forces” would not apply to the GDR. I had continued to use the phrase or variants of it with Gorbachev and Shevardnadze, in part because it was rather vague and seemed a softer version for them to accept. By the time we got to Bulgaria, however, we realized it was creating potential confusion. Stating that “NATO jurisdiction” would not apply to the territory of the GDR might be equated with saying that Article 5 and 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty would not apply…. So I began to use “forces” instead, and we agreed to that formulation with Kohl[10]…. I presented Gorbachev with what we called the nine assurances….. (4) Keeping NATO forces out of the GDR for a transition period[11].”
§  I’d also note that M. Kramer of Harvard’s account of the February 1990 conversation between Baker and Gorby[12]. Kramer maintains Baker’s offer applied to GDR only:   “Baker: Assuming that unification will occur, would you prefer a united Germany outside NATO and completely independent with no American troops [on its soil] or a united Germany that maintains its ties with NATO, but with a guarantee that NATO’s jurisdiction and forces will not extend to the East beyond the current line? Gorbachev refrained from giving a direct response to Baker’s question but said that he and his colleagues in Moscow would soon be ‘‘discussing all of these matters in depth.” He then added that ‘‘of course it is clear that an expansion of NATO’s zone [to the GDR] would be undesirable.” Baker replied: ‘‘We agree with this.”  Now why Kramer decided to add [to the GDR] to the quote is unclear to me, but he claims that Baker was referring to GDR only when offering no expansion.

II. Others on promises of no NATO expansion:
There were other participants and witnesses, of course, in the talks on unification of Germany. And here is what they said:
§  US ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock said: "We gave categorical assurances to Gorbachev back when the Soviet Union existed that if a united Germany was able to stay in NATO, NATO would not be moved eastward."[13]
§  French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta published on March 29, 2008 that he condemns the policy of expanding NATO bases because “it counters agreements, which have been concluded earlier.” “When the issue of unification of Germany was raised, then a conference was organized in the 4+2 format. An agreement was signed on this issue and already at night Genscher and I added a phrase that NATO forces will not conduct maneuvers, will not advance towards frontiers of the-then USSR. This commitment exists today and it is not being fulfilled,” he said.[14]
§  West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said in January 1990: “What NATO must do is state unequivocally that whatever happens in the Warsaw Pact there will be no expansion of NATO territory eastwards, that it to say any closer to the borders of the Soviet Union.”[15]
§  West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl told Gorbachev on February 10, 1990,   ‘‘NATO must not expand the sphere of its activity.” ‘‘Naturally, NATO must not extend its sphere to the territory of today’s GDR.’’[16]


[1] Four allies powers plus FRG and GDR
[2] “Iz besedy M.S. Gorbacheva s Dzh. Beykerom 9 fevralya 1990 goda     (Vo vstreche uchastvovali E.A. Shevardnadze i A.S. Chernyayev) [From the conversation of MS Gorbachev and J. Baker , February 9, 1990, p. 334.
(The meeting was also attended by Eduard Shevardnadze and AS Chernyaev)
[4] “Tainy Sovetskoi Diplomatiii,” memoirs of Soviet ambassador Oleg Grinevsky, Vagrius, Moscow, 2000.
[5] ‘‘Stenograficheskaya zapis’ besedy M. S. Gorbacheva s Dzh. Beikerom, 9 fevralya 1990g.,’’ Transcript of Conversation (Top Secret), February 9, 1990, in AGF, F. 1, Op. 1,
Dok. 19166 Cited in Kramer.. The same quote given in "The Russia hand : a memoir of presidential diplomacy," by Strobe Talbott, New York : Random House, c2002.
[6] Kramer.
[7] "The Russia hand : a memoir of presidential diplomacy," by Strobe Talbott, New York : Random House, 2002.
[9] "The Russia hand : a memoir of presidential diplomacy," by Strobe Talbott, New York : Random House, 2002.
[10] “Politics of Diplomacy,” pp. 234-235.
[11] “Politics of Diplomacy,” p. 251.
[12] ‘‘Stenograficheskaya zapis’ besedy M. S. Gorbacheva s Dzh. Beikerom, 9 fevralya 1990
g.,’’ Transcript of Conversation (Top Secret), February 9, 1990, in AGF, F. 1, Op. 1,
Dok. 19166, Ll. 1-14; ‘‘JAB Notes from 2/9/90 Mtg. w/ USSR Pres. Gorbachev &
FM Shevardnadze, Moscow, USSR,’’ in SGMML, JABP, Series 12, Subseries 12b,
Folder 12. See also Zelikow and Rice, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed,
pp. 182—184.
[13] "NATO Expansion Wasn't Ruled Out," By Philip Zelikow, New York Times, August 10, 1995.
[14] “Everosoyuz po perimetry: Eks-Ministr Inostrannykh Del Frantsiii Rolan Dyuma Dal Interview RG,” Rossiyskaya Gazeta published on March 29, 2008.
[15] “German Unity within the European Framework,” speech by Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher at a conference at the Tutzing Protest Academy, January 31, 1990, Statements and Speeches 13, No 2, New York: German Information Center, February 6, 1990. Cited in “The Diplomacy of German Unification,” Stephen Szabo, N.Y., 1992.
[16] ‘‘Zapis’ besedy M. S. Gorbacheva s G. Kolem, 10 fevralya 1990 goda,’’ Transcript of Conversation (Secret), February 10, 1990, in AGF, F. 1, Op. 1, Dok. 19011, Ll. 1-21;
‘‘Gespra¨ch des Bundeskanzlers Kohl mit Generalsekreta¨r Gorbatschow, Moskau, 10.
February 1990,’’ Transcript of Conversation (Secret), February 10, 1990, in Ku¨sters and
Hofmann, eds., Deutsche Einheit, Dok. No. 174, pp. 795—807. Cited in Kramer.
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