An assessment of NATO expansion since the end of the Cold War

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949 to defend against a possible Soviet attack and included 16 member nations from North America and Europe when the USSR collapsed in 1991. Between 1999 and 2020, the organization admitted 14 additional members from Central and Eastern countries. A Europe that sought military security and political stability after the end of the Cold War. Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Finland joined the alliance in April 2023. Sweden’s application is awaiting ratification by Turkey and Hungary, while NATO members are discussing Ukraine’s possible membership. To this day, there is intense academic and political debate about the security, political, and societal implications of the expansion.

In their new book, Assessing NATO Expansion. From Cold War Victory to the Russia-Ukraine War,” co-editors James Goldgeier and Joshua R. NATO expansion. The authors of the chapter assess a wide range of issues, including: NATO’s impact on US foreign policy and democracy and security in Central and Eastern Europe. members’ collective and individual relations with China and Russia; and the development of NATO as a political and military institution.

Ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Brookings will convene a discussion on June 15 with the book’s co-editors and authors of two chapters to analyze the merits and demerits of NATO enlargement and compare the paths chosen and not chosen, with a particular focus on: Russia’s war against Ukraine. The conversation will be moderated by Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

Viewers can submit questions by email to or via Twitter @BrookingsFP using #NATO expansion.

Brookings guests are required to certify their medical condition before attending the event in person. Visitors may not enter the building if they are unwell for any reason, have any symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19 at any time in the past 14 days.

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