December 2015 – MONTENEGRO – NATO has formally invited Montenegro to join the military alliance, a move that’s rankled Russian leaders who view such an expansion as a threat to their own nation’s security. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the invitation on Wednesday, the culmination of a process that began in 2009. The formal invitation marks the beginning of accession talks, NATO says. As expected, the invitation wasn’t welcomed in Russia. “Moscow has always noted at various levels that the continuing expansion of NATO and NATO’s military infrastructure to the East, of course, cannot but lead to response actions from the East, namely, the Russian side in ensuring security interests and supporting the parity of interests,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
Peskov declined to say what Russian President Vladimir Putin will do about the offer, saying, “Now, there are other priorities.” Montenegro already supports NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan and has actively cooperated with the alliance in other ways. NATO expects Montenegro to make progress on reforms “especially in the area of rule of law.” During the accession talks, NATO says, it will engage Montenegro in alliance activities. Membership in NATO is voluntary and open to European democracies willing and able to contribute to Western security, the alliance says. Aside from Montenegro, three other countries are partnering with NATO and are interested in becoming members — Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. The latter two were, like Montenegro, once a part of the former Yugoslavia. –CNN
Russia threatens retaliation: The decision, described by NATO head Jens Stoltenberg as “historic,” comes 16 years after the alliance bombed Montenegro during the Kosovo war, when it was still part of Yugoslavia. Montenegro’s accession would result in “retaliatory actions,” said a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin
Nato diplomats say it sends a message to Russia that it cannot veto the alliance’s expansion – but Russia has said it will retaliate. “The continued eastward expansion of Nato and Nato’s military infrastructure cannot but result in retaliatory actions from the east, i.e. from the Russian side, in terms of ensuring security and supporting the parity of interests,” Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. –BBC