By Dusica Tomovic
Moscow has once again threatened to hit back after Montenegro officially became the 29th NATO member state at a ceremony in Washington.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that Montenegro’s accession to NATO was “imposed” on the country by the West, as Moscow also warned of unspecified retaliatory measures against Podgorica.
“This is a purely geopolitical project that does nothing to enhance the security of NATO. It causes extra spending by the alliance’s member states, because they will have to incorporate Montenegro’s territory in military and technical terms,” Lavrov told reporters, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
“Nor will it improve the security of Montenegro, because nobody has threatened Montenegro or can threaten it,” he added.
Lavrov’s statement came after the Russian Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that in response to Podgorica’s “hostile stance” towards Moscow, Montenegro should also bear “full responsibility” for joining EU sanctions against Russia in 2014.
“In the response to the hostile policy chosen by the Montenegrin authorities, the Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures on a reciprocal basis. In politics, just as in physics, for every action there is an opposite reaction,” the ministry said in a statement.
The sharp reactions from Moscow came after a ceremony in Washington on Monday after Montenegro officially became the 29th NATO member.
The accession process, which lasted almost seven years, will end on Wednesday when Montenegro’s flag is to be hoisted for the first time at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The government in Podgorica said that the country had reached a “civilisational turning point, attaching itself to the Western system of values”.
“Montenegro’s NATO membership will support greater integration, democratic reform, trade, security, and stability with all of its neighbours,” the government said.
But Montenegro’s NATO membership has angered its traditional ally Russia whose ties to Orthodox Christian Montenegro date back to the reign of Peter the Great.
Montenegro meanwhile has accused Russia of being behind an alleged coup attempt last October aimed at toppling the pro-Western government and derailing NATO accession.
Moscow denied the claims.