Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Montenegro’s NATO membership is needed in order to “step up the alliance’s control in the Balkans.”

According to Shoigu, NATO continues projecting its forces near Russia’s borders, and including new states in its sphere of influence.

“The latest decisions on Montenegro’s admission to the alliance are a direct confirmation of this. Podgorica’s military potential is equal to zero, but its geographical position allows NATO to strengthen control of the Balkans,” the minister said at the Moscow Security Conference, Sputnik reported on Wednesday.

Shoigu believes that NATO’s aircraft patrolling the air space above the Baltic Sea pose a threat to Russia.

According to him, the activity of this “policing” mission has effectively become an integral part of the so-called zone of limited access, which includes the Kaliningrad area and the eastern part of the Baltic Sea.
“We view these NATO actions as a violation of the balance in the region, creating a threat to Russia’s security,” said Shoigu.

The Russian minister said that the US attack on a Syrian military airport earlier in the month had put Russian soldiers in danger. In this regard, he acknowledged the need to take additional measures to ensure the security of the Russian troops in Syria.

“Russia is taking additional measures to protect its troops in Syria after the US missile attack on a Syrian government airport,” said Shoigu.

Shoigu called the situation in Syria “a humanitarian catastrophe” and noted that Russian soldiers provide humanitarian aid to the Middle Eastern country.

The Moscow conference is dedicated to “global security challenges of the 21st century” as its main topic.

The conference is attended by more than 750 guests, including defense ministers and delegations, military experts and representatives of academia from 86 countries, as well as international organizations such as the UN, the OSCE, the CIS, the CSTO, and the international Committee of the Red Cross.

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