Russia has accused United States of continuing to peddle the “primitive ideology of the Cold War era”.
Russia was responding to US Vice President Mike Pence, who had earlier said that the future of the Western Balkans lied “in the West.” The VP was at Montenegro when he made the comments.
By historic standards, Montenegro is a relatively new state that was formed in May 2006. During the political upheaval that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro formed a federation. However, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (as it was called) was not legally recognized by the UN and by other former republics. In 2003, the region renamed itself Serbia and Montenegro. By 2006, Montenegro had become its own independent state.
It shares a tense relationship with Russia. In 2006, Montenegro accused Russian spy agencies of trying to assassinate then Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. It said this had been attempted in a bid to bring the opposition to power. Moscow has dismissed these claims as false.
In 2017, Montenegro officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This led Russia to accuse Montenegro for choosing a “hostile course”. The Russian foreign ministry threatened, "In the light of the hostile course chosen by the Montenegrin authorities, the Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures on a reciprocal basis. In politics, just as in physics, for every action there is an opposite reaction.
Relations between US and Russia are at an all-time low. US has approved imposing fresh sanctions on Russia for allegedly interfering in its presidential elections and Russia ordered the US to cut its diplomatic staff in Moscow by 755 people.
Amidst this tense backdrop, Pence embarked on a foreign trip to Europe to where he re-inforced US’ support to nations that are under pressure from Russia. Montenegro was his third and final stop. During a speech at Podgorica, Montenegro's capital, he said, “Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force and, here in the Western Balkans, Russia has worked to destabilize the region, undermine democracies and divide you from each other and from the rest of Europe. We truly believe the future of the Western Balkans is in the West. Montenegro is committed to the West and its system of values, and it can count on the full support of the United States.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry has responded stating, “The United States is actively peddling the thesis that there is no alternative for Southeastern Europe to joining NATO. It is regrettable to note that Washington is sliding ever deeper into the primitive ideology of the Cold War era, which is completely detached from reality.”
Our assessment is that as tensions increase between Russia and the United States, the two nations will take that conflict to other nations across the world. Is this the beginning of yet another Cold War?