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The New Thorn In Russia's Side

Why Moscow Doesn't Want Montenegro Joining NATO

Serbian army officers stand in front of a destroyed military headquarters as Serbia marks the 16th anniversary of the NATO bombing campaign in Belgrade, March 24, 2015. Marko Djurica / Reuters

For the first time in six years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced that it would expand its membership, inviting Montenegro to join the alliance. Only 16 years ago, NATO was bombing the small western Balkan nation as part of its intervention in Kosovo.

With a standing military of only 2,000, Montenegro’s membership will have little impact on the alliance’s military strength. But the move has profound political consequences. It illustrates the progress that the western Balkans, and Montenegro in particular, have made since the bloody and traumatizing wars of the 1990s. To receive the invitation, Montenegro had to undertake a series of political, legal, and military reforms under the auspices of NATO’s Membership Action Plan, a program that offers assistance and support for countries seeking to join the alliance.  

That a newly independent country could reach these standards in such a short time frame speaks to the enduring

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