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    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, and Montenegro's Foreign Minister Igor Luksic address a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015

    Russian Envoy: Montenegro Accession to NATO Deepens Divisions Within Europe

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    Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said that Montenegro’s accession to NATO weakens regional security and deepens the dividing lines in Europe.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Montenegro’s accession to NATO weakens regional security and deepens the dividing lines in Europe, Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said.

    "This is not the alliances first expansion, and, of course, not a single round of expansion has improved our relations with the countries that had decided to join NATO," Grushko told journalists on Friday, adding that "the expansion itself generates a psychology of frontline states, in essence creating new or moving old dividing lines in Europe and contradicts the necessity of creating a new system of collective security of the continent."

    Grushko stressed that new threats and risks that Europe faces demand collective efforts and Montenegro cannot provide a weighty security input.

    "What serious input into security can we talk about if the country in question has 2,000 military personnel?" the Russian envoy said, adding that "probably, this [NATO accession] is yet another step that weakens regional security and stability and aggravates dividing lines, including in the Balkan region."

    On Thursday, the foreign ministers of NATO member states signed an accession protocol for Montenegro, granting the Balkan country observer status at alliance meetings. Montenegro will be granted membership to the alliance once the protocol is ratified by all 28 NATO member states.

    Russia's Foreign Ministry has warned that the negotiations over Montenegro's NATO membership will harm Eurasian and Atlantic security systems, as well as relations between Russia and the alliance.

    NATO invited Montenegro to join the military bloc in December 2015. It was the alliance’s first expansion into Eastern Europe in six years. Montenegro accepted the invitation the following day, which triggered protests in the Balkan nation.

    On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the accession of Montenegro into NATO will significantly raise the degree of tensions on the European continent.

    Related:

    Russia Reacting to Montenegro's NATO Accession Would Be Unjustified
    NATO Build-Up in Europe Continues With Montenegro Joining Alliance
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    NATO, Alexander Grushko, Europe, Montenegro
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