The invitation of NATO to Montenegro to join the military alliance, making it the 29th member, probably makes little more sense for the United States than to put U.S. forces in Libya and Yemen.
Montenegro has a population of 600,000. It became independent in 2006. Its armed forces number 2,000. It has put a token number in Afghanistan. Montenegro borders on Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and the Adriatic Sea, making it of virtually no strategic importance.
Its membership in NATO has been promoted by Germany, Romania, Turkey and the United States, as much to annoy Russia as for any other reason. Montenegro is a former Yugoslav republic. Yugoslavia at one time was loosely allied with the old Soviet Union, part of the basis of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s having characterized the NATO action as “irresponsible.”
A problem also lies in the fact that an estimated 40 percent of the Montenegrins oppose the country’s membership in NATO. Those preferring neutrality in the renewed East-West split include pro-Serbian, pro-Russian, Eastern Orthodox conservatives and women.
The thought is that Washington would like to add another member to NATO in time for the organization’s summit in Warsaw, Poland, in July as a sign of the waning organization’s remaining vigor. It will cost America something to replace Montenegro’s Russian arms. The question of “why” remains to be answered, although U.S. companies’ potential arms sales may be part of the answer.