02:08 GMT28 February 2021
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    According to the Russian Foreign Ministry's European Cooperation Department head, Montenegro does not meet the criteria to become a NATO member.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Montenegro does not meet the criteria of NATO membership, it is laughable to speak of it as a country which can contribute to the alliance’s security, Andrei Kelin, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's European Cooperation Department told Sputnik.

    "NATO is being dragged into NATO at an accelerated and strengthened rate. Montenegro does not meet in any way the criteria of membership in the alliance, which were developed in the past … Speaking of Montenegro, which has armed forces of less than 2,000 people and its economy is in deplorable state, as a country which could bring some extra value to NATO security is just laughable," Kelin said.

    Since 2014, NATO has been building up its military presence in Europe, especially in Eastern European countries neighboring Russia, using Moscow's alleged interference in the Ukrainian conflict as a pretext.

    Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims, warning NATO that the military buildup on Russia's borders is provocative and threatens the existing strategic balance of power.

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