Posts Tagged ‘Montenegro’

If You Were Putin?

October 15, 2015


15 October 2015


Today see one thing from Putin’s point of view. The tiny Balkan state of Montenegro does not much like Russia. The diplomatic signs from a meeting of NATO ambassadors in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica today suggest that by the end of this year Montenegro will be a member of the Western Alliance.

Seems a straight forward bit of European business.  If you are a small state (population 650,000) best keep your head down or join something that will look after you in the event of international trouble.

Moreover Montenegro is already in the EU. So it would seem an easy ride into the military club. It would also tell Russia that the good guys are still siding with the West, not Moscow.  It would be the first expansion of NATO since Albania and Croatia joined in 2009.

So job all but done.  Almost.

Not everyone in Montenegro wants to join. For example, ethnic Serbs are like many in Serbia and simply do not want to be in NATO and have always had ideological links with the Russian Federation.

But never mind, the Americans say that if Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic cleans up the Montenegrin problem of crime and corruption at too many levels of the state’s society then he’ll get US approval at the December meeting of the Alliance and given the tensions in the Ukraine and the intervention in Syria, then Putin will get the message that NATO is getting stronger and that increased strength is in spite of his threats to many former client states of Moscow.

Here it is worth-while looking at the deal from the Kremlin’s viewpoint.

Think of yourself as Putin.

When Communism collapsed in the 1990s the West promised that it would not expand into the former Near Abroad as the USSR called its border states. The Warsaw Pact would disappear but the US in particular said Moscow had no fear that its cordon countries would be taken over.  They would become neutral.

What happened?  Putin in his formative years and then in power saw former Soviet states joining the EU and then NATO and then becoming major exercise territory for NATO forces. American sponsored NATO forces opened bases in East European states. NATO simply moved the old Cold War front line right onto the Russia border.

Imagine if that had been the other way? I imagine being the so-called West and Russia marching its troops even further westwards than before.  Imagine the overrun states joining what was then the Warsaw Pact.  Would we be twitchy – to say the least?

Putin sees Montenegro’s application to join NATO as yet another expansion of the West and therefore in his terms a threat. Maybe no big deal. But think how Putin sees it and then perhaps understand a little more how Putin ticks