A former prime minister of Montenegro has appealed to the European Union to curb Russia’s “destructive” influence in the Balkans.

Milo Djukanovic made the statement on March 14, several months after what prosecutors said was an attempted coup to overthrow Montenegro’s pro-Western government and prevent the country joining NATO.

Djukanovic stepped down after the alleged pro-Russian plot in October.

He said Moscow “is waging a kind of war against Europe and the West as a whole” and is threatening “the very existence of the European Union” by supporting right-wing groups which are against the 28-nation bloc.

“Montenegro has found itself in the line of fire,” Djukanovic told the Associated Press. “But, I’m sure Montenegro is not the main target.”

Djukanovic led Montenegro for over 20 years, and brought the former Yugoslav republic of 600,000 people to the threshold of NATO. It has also been the most advanced state in the region on the path to EU membership.

“The Balkans appeared as a good terrain for the demonstration of force after Russia’s campaigns in Ukraine and Syria,” Djukanovic said. “With the example of Montenegro, [Russia] wanted to show that Europe and NATO cannot expand without its consent. I believe that this is the key message for the EU and NATO.”

Djukanovic said he believes that Moscow will continue its bid to destabilize Montenegro with its “subversive” propaganda campaign.