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Officials dismiss talk of Russian military base in Montenegro

Montenegro's Foreign Ministry building.
Montenegro's Foreign Ministry building.

After US Senator Christopher Murphy stated during a panel discussion at the German Marshall Fund of the US in Washington that Russia has offered Montenegro several billion dollars to allow a Russian military presence on the Montenegrin coast, the issue has become a hot topic again. In the past two years, similar information has been officially denied evety time.

Montenegrin Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Luksic stated that Montenegro and Russia have never discussed the construction of Russian military bases on Montenegrin territory.

Revealing information on the Russian offer for the establishment of a military base in Montenegro, Murphy stated that “for a country in a very stressful financial situation, it is hard to say no to such a proposal, and Montenegro keeps saying no to Russia because it wants to become a part of NATO and the European Union.”

The Russian Embassy in Montenegro reacted to the statement by calling it a political provocation intended to complicate Russian-Montenegrin relations and discredit the leadership of the two countries.

However, the Podgorica-based daily Pobjeda revealed that information and documents in its possession prove that Russia was very interested in a basing Russian naval base on the Montenegrin coast in 2013, and that Moscow officially requested the ports of Bar and Kotor as key stationary points for the transit and maintenance of Russian military ships.

In 2013, when the topic of Russian military bases in Montenegro first drew attention, the Russian Ambassador in Podgorica stated that Moscow was interested in talking to the leadership of the Montenegrin Armed Forces about the possibility of Russian military ships gaining access to the ports of Bar and Kotor for humanitarian missions. The Ministry of Defense of Montenegro at the time refused comment.

Asked how he interprets the re-emergence of the story on the unconfirmed Russian initiative to establish a naval base on the Montenegrin coast in exchange for investments, Montenegrin geopolitical analyst Blagoje Grahovac said he acknowledges both the statements of the US Senator and those of Montenegrin and Russian officials claiming there were no talks on the issue. Grahovac believes that the talks of a possible Russian naval base on the Montenegrin coast will only end when Montenegro becomes a full member of the European Union and NATO:

“The fact that it was launched by a US Senator has a decade-old genesis. Regarding the official statements of our institutions – I believe them. Regarding the official statement of the Russian representatives – I also accept them as such. But we must always keep in mind when it comes to relations with the Russian Federation, or actually certain forces within the Russian Federation towards the Balkans, that things stand differently. The imperialistic need for influence in the Balkans has never died out, particularly for the part of the Balkans inhabited by Orthodox peoples. Therefore, both claims make sense – the officials’ claims are not true, as well as the Senator’s launching an idea that where there is smoke, there is fire. That is why I believe this will never die out until Montenegro is fully integrated into Europe and NATO.”

Montenegro is the only country on the Mediterranean that is not a member of NATO. Although talks of alleged Russian interest Russia in a military base on the Montenegrin coast have been circling for several years, it has never been mentioned in the Parliamentary Commission for Defense and Security, says DPS official Obrad Miso Stanisic:

“For as long as I have been a member of the Commission for Defense and Security, and this is already my second term, this topic has never been discussed. It was not mentioned during the commission’s sessions. I believe these are irrelevant stories, and our stance regarding our national priorities has not changed in the past ten years. Our main national and state priorities are NATO membership, and after that membership in the European Union. That is something Montenegro will not give up on.”

[MAM1]What’s the original for the title? It’s a little bit confusing – is it in the sense of “officials deny russian plans for military base in Montenegro”? and if so, it’s contradicted by the first paragraph of the story, or at least not relevant to it. Perhaps something like “Conflicting claims on plan for Russian naval base in Montenegro” would be best

[MAM2] Could I get the original B/C/S for this line?

[MAM3]To clarify – which two are completely different things?