- - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Russia will surely not like the announcement that NATO is going to offer membership to the tiny, former Yugoslav nation of Montenegro. Vladimir Putin has used the encroachment of NATO in former communist territory to Russia’s borders as a rallying cry for support among the Russian people and as an excuse to invade former Soviet territory.

Associated Press reports foreign ministers from NATO countries were expected to invite Montenegro to join the military alliance despite Russia’s objection to the move, diplomats said, the latest sign of discord between the West and Moscow even as they both battle the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Montenegro’s accession was one of several topics being discussed at two-day meeting of top diplomats from the alliance that began Tuesday. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said Washington supports an invitation to Montenegro. “We believe Montenegro’s membership in NATO will contribute to Balkan and European security,” she said.

Last week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing that a decision by NATO to start negotiations with Montenegro on its accession to the alliance would be “yet another serious blow” to the existing security system. She said such a move would be “confrontational” and “could lead to further complication of the already difficult relations between Russia and NATO.”

Most likely, Russia will begin to sever economic ties to the former satellite province as it has done with Ukraine and other former Soviet states that have had the nerve to prefer an alliance with the West rather than be under the Kremlin’s influence.

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