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Montenegro Pays the Price for NATO Entry by Spoiling Ties With Russia, Serbia

© AFP 2021 / SAVO PRELEVICMontenegrin Army soldiers fire artillery look at the Montenegro flag during preparations on the eve of Independence day, on May 20, 2010 in Cetinje
Montenegrin Army soldiers fire artillery look at the Montenegro flag during preparations on the eve of Independence day, on May 20, 2010 in Cetinje - Sputnik International
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Montenegro is facing the necessity of breaking its ties with Russia; this will serve as a kind of payment for entering NATO, Russian political analyst Vladimir Kireyev told Sputnik.

Russian soldiers watch a transporter-loader place an Iskander-M shorter-range missile onto a launcher during an exercise - Sputnik International
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In an interview with Sputnik, Russian political analyst Vladimir Kireyev said that Montenegro is paying the price for its NATO entry. To do so, it must cut its old ties with old friends, including Russia and neighboring Serbia.

The interview came after Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Montenegrin authorities are attempting to justify the country's NATO membership policy by accusing Moscow of meddling in the country's affairs.

On Sunday, Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic said that Moscow had tried to meddle in his country's internal affairs in order to prevent Podgorica's accession to NATO.

© AP Photo / Risto BozovicAnti-NATO demonstrators hold a banner during a protest outside the hall before the parliament session in Cetinje, Montenegro, Friday, April 28, 2017
Anti-NATO demonstrators hold a banner during a protest outside the hall before the parliament session in Cetinje, Montenegro, Friday, April 28, 2017 - Sputnik International
Anti-NATO demonstrators hold a banner during a protest outside the hall before the parliament session in Cetinje, Montenegro, Friday, April 28, 2017

The Foreign Ministry echoes numerous statements from Montenegrin politicians about an alleged Russian threat, Moscow's meddling in domestic affairs, and so on. All these steps were necessary to justify the country's NATO accession in the eyes of the nation," Zakharova told the National News Service broadcaster while speaking about Darmanovic's statement.

She added that the Montenegrin nation did not want to join NATO's ranks, even given the "spy hysteria and defense against a virtual enemy" stirred by local authorities, who made an attempt to suppress the will of the Montenegrin population by making up stories about "the hand of the Kremlin."

Speaking to Sputnik, Russian political analyst Vladimir Kireyev slammed the position of the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry as a populist stance.

According to him, Montenegrin authorities are trying in every possible way to signal to NATO their desire to break the old ties.

"Historically, Montenegro has maintained friendly ties with Russia, with the two countries linked by ethnic, cultural and religious relations. Right now, Montenegro is also breaking ties with Serbia, which has friendly relations with Russia," Kireyev said.

"The need for Montenegro to break its previous ties is a kind of payment for its joining NATO. But it is worth noting that this is at odds with the interests of the Montenegrin population," he added, referring to tens of thousands of people who had protested earlier against their country's NATO ambitions.

Commenting on the Montenegrin Foreign Minister's accusations against Moscow, Kireyev said that similar allegations on the part of officials could finally cost Montenegro its tourist appeal for Russians.

"I think that our relations will be very complicated. Staying in Montenegro will now be unsafe for Russian citizens because they may be under pressure there. Therefore, Montenegro will lose its tourist appeal," he concluded.

Montenegro was invited to join NATO in December 2015, as part of the first expansion of the 28-nation alliance into Eastern Europe in six years.

Podgorica accepted the invitation on December 3, 2015. However, the government's decision to join NATO triggered mass protests throughout the country.

On April 25, US President Donald Trump signed the protocol on Montenegro's accession to NATO, which was the final step in ratifying the document.

Demonstrators wave flags during anti-NATO protest as Montenegro’s parliament discusses NATO membership agreement in Cetinje, Montenegro, April 28, 2017 - Sputnik International
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On May 19, 2016, the NATO member states signed the accession protocol. According to NATO's website, the accession process is expected to be complete by June 2017.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns over the further expansion of NATO into the east.

Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the political course of Montenegro which sees it joining the alliance without holding a nationwide referendum.

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