Understanding the Significance of NATO’s Eastward Expansion

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was established on April 4, 1949, with twelve founding members. By 1982, it had added four more members in Western Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO gradually entered a new period of eastward expansion, incorporating many countries which used to make up the socialist Eastern Bloc. The tiny nation of Montenegro, with a population of fewer than a million people, and with only 1,950 active military personnel, became the 29th member of NATO on June 5, 2017. Why has NATO continued its eastern expansion? And why does NATO still exist?


  • Origins of NATO.
  • Eastward expansion of NATO.
  • Rationale for NATO’s eastward expansion and continued existence.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the origins of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  2. Appreciate the geopolitical significance of NATO’s eastward expansion.
  3. Comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of NATO’s continued existence.