|Disinformation about NATO typically involves elements of both historical revisionism and fearmongering about the alliance’s alleged hostile intentions. We are told that NATO “destroyed” Yugoslavia because it was an obstacle to US plans for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and because it prohibited the Western Balkans from joining the EU. The 1999 bombing campaign was a “genocide” that deliberately aimed at environmentally dangerous targets to ensure as much death and destruction as possible. But these Russian narratives about Yugoslavia, which have always framed NATO intervention as illegitimate and ruthlessly destructive, grossly distort this sensitive and complex issue.
As the humanitarian situation in Kosovo deteriorated, fuelling pressure for international intervention, NATO bypassed the UN to authorize air strikes unless Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević agreed to get “Serbs out, peacekeepers in, refugees back [to Kosovo].” After Milosevic refused the terms and NATO began its air strikes against government infrastructure, Serb security forces escalated their violence and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Finally, in June 1999, after approximately 500 civilian deaths from the strikes, Milosevic agreed to allow international troops into Kosovo. From the beginning of Operation Allied Force, NATO pledged to minimise civilian casualties.
No room for nuance
In the world of pro-Kremlin disinformation, however, there is no room for nuance. Today, we are told that NATO is as aggressive as ever, with imminent plans to invade Russia. Thousands of troops are already stationed along Russia’s border for this very purpose! Alternatively, NATO’s future military campaign against Russia will use Ukraine as a springboard, which is why the West is presently seeking to gain control of the Ukraine-Russia border.
We are told that NATO poses a serious threat to other countries as well. In Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia, NATO is perceived as a dangerous weapon of the United States, deployed only in pursuit of its own imperialistic agenda. And the alliance is accused of conquering Ukraine and attempting to destroy Venezuela – which is ironic, considering it was Russia that invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, and continues to wage war in the east, and that it was Russian planes carrying troops that landed in Venezuela earlier this week. By contrast, NATO activity in Ukraine has been limited to joint military exercises, and no NATO troops are present in Venezuela.