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WASHINGTON, June 5. /TASS/. On Monday, Montenegro officially joined NATO becoming its 29th member state. The Washington ceremony of accession, hosted by US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon, was attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
During the ceremony, Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic handed the Protocol of Accession to Shannon.
Russia insists that NATO’s eastwards expansion has led to growing tensions in Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized this fact at the Munich Security Conference on February 18. According to the Russian top diplomat, NATO’s expansion has caused "an unprecedented degree of tension in Europe not seen in the past 30 years." "Judging by certain statements made at the Munich Conference, the Cold War is not yet over," he said then.
While addressing a press conference in Hamburg on December 9, 2016, the Russian foreign minister said he had forwarded to NATO members documents concerning the conversations between former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and German Interior Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, as well as between then Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and US Secretary of State James Baker. "They all said that NATO would not expand to the east," Lavrov stressed. According to him, "all this has been forgotten" as new NATO units and heavy weapons are being deployed to areas bordering Russia.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO comprised 12 countries. In 1999, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined the alliance, followed by Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Estonia in 2004, while Albania and Croatia became members in 2009.
Macedonia is a candidate for NATO membership, while at the 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO decided to launch the process of membership for Georgia and Ukraine.