The Ministry of Defence floated the idea of Russia becoming an “associate member” of the alliance in 1995, with the right to attend meetings but with no guarantees when it came to security.
The proposal was dismissed at a top-level meeting at Chequers that January.
According to minutes of the meeting, the plan was seen as “farcical”.
Nato – the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – was established in 1949 to safeguard freedom, democracy and mutual security in Western Europe in the face of Soviet expansionism after World War Two.
Members agree that an armed attack against one shall be considered an attack against them all, and that they will come to the aid of one another.
But following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the idea of involving Moscow in the trans-Atlantic alliance was given serious consideration as a way of changing relations.
A memo from the MoD, part of a set of newly declassified government documents from the National Archives, said “integrating Russia into the European and Western family of nations in a realistic and sensitive way” was “the most difficult problem” facing the UK and its allies.
It acknowledged that making Russia – which at the time was led by Boris Yeltsin – a full member of Nato would “always be impossible” as it would require, under Article V of…