×
Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Lavrov: NATO's Planned Expansion Into Balkans Is Provocative

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens to a translation during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at the 69th U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 24, 2014.

SARAJEVO — NATO's potential expansion to the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro could be seen as a "provocation," Russia's foreign minister was quoted as saying in a newspaper interview published Monday.

Moscow has opposed any NATO extension to former communist areas of eastern and southeastern Europe, part of a competition for geo-strategic influence since the end of the Cold War that sits at the heart of the current conflict in ex-Soviet Ukraine.

Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia share an ambition to join the Western military alliance, following in the footsteps of Albania and ex-Yugoslav Croatia, which became members in 2009.

Asked about the integration of the three into NATO, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz: "With regards to the expansion of NATO, I see it as a mistake, even a provocation in a way.

"This is, in a way, an irresponsible policy that undermines the determination to build a system of equal and shared security in Europe, equal for everyone regardless of whether a country is a member of this or that bloc."

Russia has energy interests in the Balkans and historical ties with the Slavs of the region, many of them Orthodox Christian like the Russians. But Moscow's influence has waned as the countries of the former Yugoslavia seek to join the European mainstream with membership of the EU and NATO.

The tiny Adriatic republic of Montenegro appears closest to NATO accession. Bosnia's bid is hostage to ethnic bickering that has slowed reforms, while Macedonia remains blocked by a long-running dispute with neighboring Greece over the name of the landlocked country.

Only Serbia, perhaps Russia's closest ally in the region, is not actively pursuing membership of NATO given political sensitivities lingering since the alliance's 1999 air war against then-strongman Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to halt a wave of atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Lavrov confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Serbia in mid-October to mark the 70th anniversary of Belgrade's liberation from Nazi occupation by Yugoslav Partisan fighters and the Soviet army.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more