Montenegro officially joins NATO, a move which many say could undermine Russia’s bid to keep its foothold in southeast Europe.
On Monday, preparations were underway in Washington hosting a welcoming ceremony for Montenegro to officially join NATO and become the 29th member of the Western military alliance.
The accession comes to the dismay of Russia. Russia has warned tourists against visits to Montenegro while imports of food stuff have been banned from the country.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova recently said that “there is an anti-Russian hysteria in Montenegro.”
She added that Russians may be exposed to risks like “arrests for suspicious reasons or extradition to third countries” if they visit the Slavic country. Moscow has also vowed that it would retaliate politically.
The government of Montenegro has defended the move as a stabilizing measure while denying that it could discourage Russian tourists from visiting the country.
“One of the reasons we are joining NATO is to create greater stability, not only for Montenegrin citizens, but also for foreign investors and tourists,” former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said. “Therefore, our goal is to bring even more Russian tourists,” added Djukanovic, who has been one of the driving forces behind Montenegro’s NATO bid over the years.