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MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. Fifteen years ago US-led NATO countries were bombing the territory of former Yugoslavia. These days the North Atlantic Alliance is about to make a decision to invite Montenegro to join the list of its members. Macedonia and Bosnia are next in line. Both are eager to follow in the footsteps of Croatia and Albania to become members of NATO.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described NATO’s expansion in the Balkans as a “provocation” and a “wrong policy.” “In a sense this is an irresponsible policy that undermines the determination to build a common system of security in Europe, a system equal for all, irrespective of whether the country was a member of this or that bloc,” Lavrov said in an interview granted to the Bosnian daily DnevniAvaz.
The executive vice-president of the Atlantic Council of the United States, Damon Wilson, explained to Montenegro’s newspaper Pobjeda the reasons why NATO is so eager to spread to the Balkans. If countries in that region do not move on towards democratic values and free markets, Russia will gain greater influence and begin to show muscle through the control of energy infrastructures in the region, using it for both commercial interests and political aims.
“Montenegro has abdicated its own economy to have handed its assets over to Western companies and joined the euro area. Wealthy holiday-makers from the Old World countries eagerly go on vacation there. Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic’s pro-western team is doing its utmost to make Montenegro a member of the EU, and the road there lies through NATO,” Ivashov said.
“NATO, of course, is greatly interested in the Mediterranean Sea areas adjoining Montenegro and its convenient harbours for deploying military bases and aircraft carriers. But the main purpose of the North Atlantic Alliance’s intention to incorporate Montenegro is to contain Russia’s influence in the Balkans, to put pressure on Russia’s cooperation with Serbia, to keep under control and impair the laying of the South Stream gas pipeline, which is a great competitor to shale gas the United States hopes to supply to Europe,” Ivashov explained.
“The intention of NATO’s leadership to make Montenegro a member of the alliance also drives a wedge into the Orthodox space, foments enmity between Serbia and Montenegro and between Montenegro and Russia - states sharing a common history and joint struggle during the first and second world wars,” General Ivashov said.
“All of NATO’s latest decisions in the light of the latest events in Ukraine are aimed against Russia and against its growing influence. At a certain point US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, speaking before the US Council on Foreign Relations, accused Russia and China of strengthening positions along their borders and said that the United States might offer a military response to threats to its allies. “In other words, no threat is in sight yet, but the readiness to deal a retaliatory strike is already there,” the deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, Andrey Klimov, told TASS.
“Russia and NATO countries are divided not only by military-political competition, but, as it is the case in the Balkans, by economic competition. Regrettably, we shall have to live on in the context of this standoff, which requires strengthening Russia’s defences and explains the increase of military spending in the 2015-2017 budget,” Klimov said.
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