Russia warns NATO over Montenegro membership invite
NATO's extension of a membership invite to Montenegro prompted a warning from Russia. Montenegro's accession would result in "retaliatory action" from Russia, said a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia said that it opposes Montenegro joining NATO because it sees any expansion of the alliance into the ex-Communist territory in eastern Europe as a threat to its interests and stability in the region.
Montenegro, which means "Black Mountain", has the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo and Albania.
The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by a referendum on Montenegrin independence in May 2006. It emerged as a sovereign state after just over 55% of the population opted for independence in the referendum. Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council all recognised Montenegro's independence.
What is NATO?
North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.
Background of Montenegro's membership
In Dec 2009, Montenegro was granted a Membership Action Plan. This is the final step in application for membership in the NATO. In 2010, Montenegro submitted its first Annual National Programme under the Membership Action Plan. In 2014, NATO Secretary-General announced that NATO will open focused talks with Montenegro and will assess by end of 2015, whether to invite it to join the alliance.
Russia warns Montenegro against joining NATO
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that if Montenegro joined NATO, they will consider it as another breach of Europe's security. Earlier, NATO Secretary-General had warned Russia against interference in relations between Montenegro and NATO. Russia argued that western countries, with the US in the lead, are trying to push for full NATO membership for Montenegro, despite opposition from the majority of its population.
NATO invites Montenegro to join alliance
NATO formally invited the tiny Adriatic nation of Montenegro to become the 29th member of the military alliance in a move that could draw rebuke from Russia. The invitation to Montenegro is NATO's first expansion into eastern Europe since Albania and Croatia joined in 2009. NATO diplomats said that it sends a message to Russia that it cannot veto the alliance's eastward expansion.
John Kerry's statement
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the decision to invite Montenegro was not directed at Russia. "NATO is not a threat to anyone...it is a defensive alliance, it is simply meant to provide security," Kerry said at a news conference.