NATO and Russia: Will the Expansion of NATO Cause a New Cold War?


You are part of a delegation to a special meeting of the NATO sponsored Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council being held in Brussels, Belgium.  The topic of discussion at the meeting is a proposal by several NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) members to invite a number of the independent republics of the former Soviet Union to become permanent members of NATO.

The Russian delegation intends to make a strong objection to the proposal--fearing that the NATO countries are taking advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union--to expand their political, economic, and military influence at the expense of Russia's weakened position.

Read the following editorial from the April 30, 1998 issue of the Christian Science Monitor about an upcoming debate in the US Senate over giving NATO membership to former Warsaw Pact nations of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary:

Current NATO countries and New Members
Source:  CNN

What Size NATO?
Like Lincoln's legs, drolly described as needing to be long enough to reach the ground, Europe's defense needs to be large enough to defend Europe. 

Sounds simple enough. But wait. How large is Europe going to be? And, what about America, for half a century den mother, provider of commanders, and chief arms supplier for NATO? 

NATO isn't just Europe. The US (and Canada) confirmed the transatlantic nature of the alliance stitched together to defend Western democracies against Stalin's captive empire. 

But that was then, and this is now. The empire isn't about to strike back. It's dismantled and partly defanged. So, outnumbered Senate opponents of enlargement argue, why plant seeds of future belligerence in Moscow - revenge for being left out of the club while lesser neighbors are invited in? 

That's an argument worth careful thought, not smug dismissal. So is the related plea that a generous America did better after World War II by helping defeated enemies Germany and Japan recover and democratize - rather than walling them off. 

Our position for the past two years takes account of both (1) the reasons for welcoming back the artificially walled off eastern half of Europe, and (2) generously bolstering democracy and prosperity in Russia. 

We would have preferred that the organic growth of economic and cultural Europe precede the military defense of that enlargement. Let European Union grow under its strict rules of responsible economic and democratic behavior; then let NATO follow the EU map. In short: today EU, tomorrow NATO. 

But, having said that, we feel that cheering on Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic - courageous topplers of the Iron Curtain - and then slamming the NATO door in their faces would be wrong, historically fickle and dangerous. 

So let the Senate ratify membership for these three. But thereafter, make clear that passing the EU membership tests of economic and democratic readiness is the path to entering the defense alliance. 

Meanwhile, neither the US nor EU should neglect promises to Russia. Those include: (1) Helping reformers trying to democratize both the political and economic systems. (2) Making sure the Partnership for Peace deal linking Moscow's leadership to NATO planning works in a practical way. (3) Working with the Kremlin to lower barriers to trade with, and investment in, Russia's at last recovering economy. (4) Jointly working to halt leakage of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and know-how. 

We cannot coin an acronym and assume its immortality. Who today remembers METO (the Middle East clone of NATO) or SEATO (the Asian clone)? NATO will survive as a useful entity only if it defends an organically growing body of economic and political democracies. 

That's the Lincoln's legs test the Senate should use.

The Task

You will serve in the delegation to the NATO sponsored 43 nation Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) from at least the following 14 of those countries: (1) the United Kingdom; (2) France; (3) the United States; (4) Russia; (5) Estonia; (6) Latvia; (7) Lithuania; (8) Italy; (9) Ukraine; (10) Czech Republic; (11) Poland; (12) Hungary; (13) Germany;  and (14) Kazakhstan.

Your job will be to represent your nation's interests to the best of your ability and at the same time create a positive climate that will insure peace as well as security for all nations involved.


All the countries within the Gold Box are members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Source:  NATO Basic Fact Sheet # 19

The Process


Before you get started, the whole class must brainstorm the following questions to get a clearer understanding of the problem. They should know how to prepare for a conference and how to conduct a political meeting or conference to a successful conclusion, and what information will be needed to aid each group in its tasks.

       What do we know?
       What do we need to know?
       Where can we find out what we need to know?

Background Information
Study the Background of Your Nation or Country

Find information about the country you represent.  What is its history--especially recent history?  What is its size and strength?  Who are its friends?  What are its national interests?  You may find this information in your textbook, in an encyclopedia (CD ROM), or at the following websites:

Country Studies/Area Handbook Program

A continuing series of books prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the Department of the Army.

US State Department Background Notes (

The US State Department provides quick references and information on nations throughout the world. 

Study the Background of NATO and NATO Expansion

Background on the origins of NATO, its purposes, and its history can be found at the following websites:

Study the Pros and Cons on the Immediate Question of NATO Expansion

Read the following two articles to give yourself an up-to-date understanding of the controversy between the US and Russia on NATO expansion:

Madeleine Albright, "Expanding NATO Natural, Logical" (March 3, 1998)  (

Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, defends the idea of NATO expansion and minimizes the reaction of Russia.

Alexei Arbatov, "Bad for Russia, Bad for the World" (March 3, 1998)

Alexei Arbatov, deputy chair of the Defense Committee of the Russian Parliament, feels that NATO expansion will plant a permanent seed of mistrust between the United States and Russia. and will worsen existing differences on everything from nuclear arms control to policies in Iraq and Iran.

Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council of NATO (EAPC)

Once the background to the controversy is researched by all groups, a "mock" meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) will take place at the Head of State level using the following guidelines:

(1) Seating Arrangement--Each of the 14 nations in attendance will be seated in a circle with the NATO Secretary General as the presiding officer.  The rest of the delegates to the meeting will sit behind their head of state to render assistance.

(2) Topic of Debate--The first order of business will be an "advisory" resolution by the United States to allow the former Soviet Republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the Ukraine to become full fledged members of NATO.  This "advisory" resolution, if passed, will be referred on to the NATO Council for further debate.

(3) Speeches--Each nation's head of state (or designated speaker) will speak on behalf of his/her country on this issue of NATO expansion.  Use proper diplomatic language in addressing the members of the EAPC.

(4) Time for Questions--The presiding officer may give time for other members of Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to ask questions of each of the speakers.

(5) Amendments--Once each nation has given their speeches and answered questions, the presiding officer can entertain motions to amend the original US motion from various nations.  Debate can continue until a final vote is taken on the motion--amended or not.

(6) Final Vote--A final vote will be taken on the "advisory" resolution to be sent on to the NATO Council.


In addition to the internet resources listed in the "background study," the following are excellent resources that will give you more information than you really need to carry out the project:

NATO Expansion (

Check out the FAS webpages on NATO Expansion to get the most up-to-date information on the NATO Expansion issue.

Global Beat: NATO Expansion (

This site is updated weekly by the Global Reporting Network, a program of the Center for War, Peace, and the News Media at New York University's Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.  It contains an enormous amount of documents, analyses, and commentary on the NATO debate.  In addition it has links to the "experts" from various "think tanks" dealing with the NATO issue.

Online Newshour Forum: NATO Expansion (

PBS conducted a complete "forum" on the subject of NATO expansion and its effects on Russia in October 1997.  This website has questions, answers, links, documents, articles--more information than you can digest to help you with the project.

Learning Advice

After you have checked out the resources made available to you in this project and you are still not satisfied with the information you found, compile a list of "keywords" that you can plug into your favorite search tools. You will be surprised at the information you get.

The meeting of the EAPC is "role playing" activity.  It is not the real thing!  However, the more that you can make it like the "real thing"--the better.

Research your part thoroughly.  Study your part as if you were rehearsing a role in a movie. Be the character you are playing!  Live the part!  If you do this, it will make the activity fun as well as meaningful.


Prior to beginning the activity, the students and the teacher need to determine the criteria to be used in evaluating what makes a "good" and meaningful EAPC meeting? The following can be criteria from which to choose:


Ask yourself the following questions:

See--Teacher Notes