2004 new members: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia | National
– Total NATO membership: 26
The admission of the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—introduced NATO to Russia’s doorstep. Until that time, no NATO member had shared a land border with Russia. This group additionally marked the primary former Soviet international locations to hitch the alliance. With their accession, they had been formally past Russia’s sphere of affect, politically talking.
Under Vladimir Putin’s management, Russia initially objected to this enlargement, claiming a NATO navy presence in a bordering nation was a risk to Russia’s nationwide safety. But in the end, Baltic state membership—even by way of the eyes of Putin—was a foregone conclusion. The alliance made clear that any lack of formal border treaties—which till then had been thought of a non-starter for membership—would within the case of the Baltic states be neglected, as Russia’s “stalling techniques to impair [their] candidacy” had been all too clear to member nations. In 2000, Putin signed the “Foreign Policy Concept” which outlined a dedication to fostering “good-neighborliness and mutual cooperation” particularly with the Baltic states. Russia was extra involved about preserving its enhancing relationship with the West presently than blocking their admission.
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