Controversy arose in the mid-1990s when Russian officials accused Western governments of reneging on binding pledges made to Moscow in 1990 during German unification diplomacy. According to the allegations, Western leaders had solemnly promised that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would never expand beyond Germany into Central and Eastern Europe. Were such pledges ever made? Was the Soviet Union betrayed, and if so, by whom, how, and when? Or have various tactical comments been misinterpreted in hindsight? This article seeks to offer new answers to these questions by exploring not simply U.S.-Soviet-West German triangular diplomacy in 1990 but also the evolution of different approaches, ideas, and visions regarding Germany's security arrangements and the wider European security architecture. These ideas were floated publicly and privately, at home and abroad, by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and other senior West German officials. In showing how ultimately a “unified Germany in NATO” came about after months of intense diplomacy in 1990 to resolve the “German question,” this article refutes the recently made claim that the extension of full membership to the whole of Germany was a precedent-setting expansion of NATO.

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