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Following the ascension of Montenegro to NATO in June 2017, tensions with Russia have escalated. While a majority of Montenegrins approved the move, it did reveal internal ethnic schisms as well, with only 11.3 % of Montenegrin Serbs supporting membership.[1] Russian media outlets have seen an opportunity in the ethnic divide, with content from Sputnik and Russia Beyond Headlines frequently republished in Serbian-language outlets.[2] Russia was quick to decry the move to join NATO, calling it a “hybrid war”[3] and promising retaliatory measures.[4] Montenegro, accusing Russia of internal meddling, barred 149 Russians and Ukrainians from entering the country, including some major figures such as Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin.[5] In October 2016, two local party leaders were ousted over claims of a Russia-backed plot to overthrow the government,[6] with evidence detailing the involvement of GRU associates and local Russian sympathizers in its orchestration[7] [8]. Such examples demonstrate the power of Russian hard power mixed with intelligence activity. Montenegro had also participated in the sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Russia and its citizens do hold significant economic interests in the country in terms of property and corporate ownership.[9] [10] The new president Milo Djukanovic has offered to try and build bridges with Russia,[11] but given the new geopolitical realities of NATO membership, Russia is expected to take advantage of divides in Montenegrin opinion with its influence in local media outlets.[12]


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