21:51 GMT21 January 2021
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    There is a "new round of fighting for spheres of influence" in the Balkans, Austrian newspaper Der Standard wrote. While NATO is carrying out military exercises in Montenegro, Russia views this as "a confrontational move" that could lead to renewed tensions between Moscow and the West.

    Civil defense exercises, involving 32 countries, are currently being held in Montenegro under the guidance of NATO.

    According to the newspaper, with this move local authorities want to show that they are ready to join NATO. Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic wants to maintain his power with the help of the West, which is why he has demonstrated his willingness to follow a Western strategy, the article said.

    The military alliance, for its turn, "is primarily interested in closing the gap between the NATO states, Croatia and Albania, on the Adriatic coast, 250 kilometers of which belong to Montenegro," the newspaper noted.

    Moreover, the move is also a signal to Moscow that "a new round of fighting for spheres of influence" has started in the Balkans, the article said.

    Earlier, the ruling Montenegrin Democratic Socialist Party and the state prosecutor's office claimed that the pro-Russian Serbs Party was allegedly planning a coup to overthrow Ptime Minister Djukanovic.

    According to reports, the coup was supposed to take place during parliamentary elections on October 16. On that day, Montenegrin police arrested a group of Serbs who were allegedly planning armed attacks on government institutions and top politicians.

    "Taking into account the scarcity of the facts, various conspiracy theories and interests as well as the politically dependent judiciary, it will be impossible to clarify the situation. Some people, however, think that the "strong man" of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, and his people had staged the coup attempt themselves to stir fear, win the election, and criminalize the opposition," the newspaper wrote.

    Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated Moscow is concerned over NATO's current course leading to deterioration of the security situation in Europe and is waiting for a concrete response from the alliance on Russia's initiatives to resume dialogue.


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    military training, NATO, West, Russia, Montenegro
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