United States President Donald Trump is worried about protecting Nato member Montenegro. On July 18 Trump warned that sending troops from the alliance to defend this “aggressive” country could result in World War III. The small country joined Nato last year.
“You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” Trump told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on US television. “They are very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. But that’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago.”
As reported by The Washington Post, Trump’s comments came after a Nato meeting in Brussels last week in which he upbraided allies for not living up to an agreement on how much they should pay for defence.
As for Article 5 – the provision that calls for Nato members to come to the aid of allies under attack, it’s only been invoked once. This was in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001. It does not apply in cases in which a Nato member is the aggressor.
Since joining the alliance, Montenegro has sent troops to a Nato-led mission in Afghanistan.
In response to Trump’s comments on July 18, Republican Senator John McCain took to Twitter. He noted that the Senate had supported Montenegro’s accession to Nato by a vote of 97 to 2.
“By attacking Montenegro & questioning our obligations under NATO, the President is playing right into Putin’s hands,” McCain wrote.
Also taking to Twitter was Wesley K. Clark, a former Nato supreme allied commander. He wrote: “Trump’s comments weaken Nato, give Russia a license to cause trouble and thereby actually increase the risks of renewed conflict in the Balkans”.
In a separate report, the BBC interviewed Ranko Krivokapic, who served as Montenegro’s head of state from its independence in 2006 until 2016. Today, he is president of the opposition Social Democratic Party.
“He’s the strangest president in the history of the United States,” Krivokapic told the BBC. “With this kind of president, with his knowledge of foreign policy, who knows what is going on? Foreign policy is not his big thing.”
As for Trump’s depiction of Montenegro as a nation of conflict-crazy lunatics, Krivokapic disagrees. “Peace in Montenegro is not in any kind of danger. Everything is under control – Nato forces are not required in Montenegro.”
According to the BBC, Trump’s remarks on Montenegro may reveal his ignorance of – or insensitivity towards – Russia’s recent activity in the Western Balkans.