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Are we supposed to betray ourselves in order to avoid betraying Russia?

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s position that Montenegrin leadership “betrayed Russia” is nothing unusual when it comes to messages coming from Moscow, the analysts interviewed by Pobjeda newspaper agreed.

Lavrov said on Tuesday that the European Union wants Serbia to behave “like the leader of Montenegro who has violated its obligations, broken promises and betrayed Russia, though Russia has done nothing bad to him”, referring to the former Montenegrin prime minister Milo Djukanovic.

He added that politicians were obliged to build relations of trust, strengthen mutual understanding, clarify any doubts through dialogue, and not “to quickly catch a microphone and loudly accuse someone”.

Commenting on the Lavrov’s statement, former Montenegrin foreign minister Branko Lukovac said that Moscow and Podgorica should build good relations, which are currently in crisis.

“Unfortunately, according to the Russian foreign minister Lavrov and other Russian officials, the leadership of Montenegro should betray Montenegrin strategic interests for the sake of interests of Russia as a large or super power, because only then it would not betray Russia,” Lukovac told Pobjeda.

In his view, the strategic interest of Montenegro is to build good, developed, stable relations with Russia based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, in accordance with the tradition.

“Those relations are now undoubtedly in crisis and it is therefore important that the most responsible representatives of Montenegro and Russia meet as soon as possible, clarify misunderstandings and harmonise principles, objectives and ways of further mutual cooperation, in order to preserve and strengthen the friendship between our peoples and countries,” said Lukovac.

On the other hand, foreign policy analyst and journalist from Belgrade Bosko Jaksic told Pobjeda that Lavrov’s latest statement was not uncommon when it comes to rhetoric coming from Moscow.

It fully fits in everything communicated from Moscow since Djukanovic, after talks with Biden, announced that Montenegro should join NATO.

“So, if we bear in mind that the Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Aleksandar Chepurin spoke of Montenegro’s ‘simian politics’, then the statement on betraying Russia seems even polite. It fits in Russia’s tendency to win influence in the region using and relying on pan-Slavism and Orthodoxy. Russia plays on these epic and emotional ties, which can sometimes be of dubious origin. This statement on betrayal is a part of the propaganda and the pressures that are being made,” said Jaksic.

Asked whether this is some kind of warning before Montenegro’s joining NATO, Jaksic said it was not.

“When Russians want to warn, they can do that in a more serious way. This is more like a sentimental statement aimed at forcing Montenegrins to think why they betrayed a strategic ally of Russia. So I do not see that like a threat at all,” Jaksic said, adding that Moscow shows a high degree of anxiety regarding Montenegro’s accession to NATO.

Former Montenegrin PM said that he represented only the interests of Montenegro.

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