In Part One of this series, Russia and the West: NATO (Birth, Adulthood, and Evolution), I examined the history of the Atlantic Alliance, its hallmark moments, and how the mission of the alliance has shifted from collective defense to collective security since its inception in 1949. Additionally, I touched on the issue of enlargement, noting that states such as Georgia have repeatedly expressed interest in joining NATO only to be rebuffed for reasons related to geopolitical risk and the emerging changes in the international power structure. The policy of enlarging the Atlantic Alliance carries with it significant risk, off-set by rewards that often do not adequately value long-term strategic interests and instead seek to pursue short-term political gain and comparative geopolitical advantage over rival powers and competing alliances.

Throughout the Cold War, NATO enlarged a total of three times, admitting a total of four new member-states:

  • February 18, 1952: Greece and Turkey
  • May 9, 1955: West Germany
  • May 30, 1982: Spain

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union and the subsequent dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has admitted a total of 12 new member-states to the Atlantic Alliance:

  • May 12, 1999: Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland
  • March 29, 2004: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Slovenia
  • April 1, 2009: Croatia and Albania

The three most recent iterations of enlargement were largely governed by requirements laid out in the Membership Action Plan (MAP), a five-point plan for admission to the alliance. For nations to be admitted to the alliance individual governments must demonstrate that they are guided by policies that reflect  a maturing military apparatus capable of acting in concert with its prospective allied nations. MAP’s official plan is five distinct requirements: