nato expansion

Map of NATO's expansion
Part I: A Rift Within NATO Confirmed

In April 2015, Marko Milačić, a well-known Montenegrin journalist and then the director of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro, obtained a set of confidential Montenegrin government files focusing on the issues surrounding Montenegro's membership in NATO.1 While the leaking of these files caused quite a commotion within the corrupt Montenegrin ruling circles and was widely reported in the Montenegrin media, not much of the scandal trickled down into the international arena. The actual content of the files has remained virtually unknown to the English-speaking audience, even though they contain very important insider's view of the functioning of the U.S., European, and NATO institutions as well as the private thinking of several political figures in the key leadership positions.

I have set out to remedy this situation as I have recently received the files from Milačić. I plan to present and discuss their content in the series of articles of which this is the first one. This is the first time that the files are analyzed in detail in English.

There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the files because they contain the government filing numbers, the official government stamp, and the signatures of the relevant officials. In addition, as soon as the Montenegrin daily newspaper Dan began publishing news reports on the files, the government launched an in-depth investigation and threatened heavy sanctions against those who leaked the files.2 However, the investigation led nowhere and, remaining true to journalistic ethics and professionalism even under intense pressure, Milačić never revealed the name(s) of his source(s).

The U.S. Visit of the Top Montenegrin Official

In this article, I will focus on the report chronicling the U.S. visit of Igor Lukšić, who at that time was the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs. Lukšić has been one of the highest officials in the government of Montenegro for more than a decade. He was a prime minister from December 2010 to December 2012 and many considered him the political and ideological heir to the long-time authoritarian leader Milo Djukanović. However, it appears that Djukanović has recently changed his mind and Lukšić resigned all his government posts in April 2016.

As a consolation prize, Djukanović chose Lukšić to be the Montenegrin candidate for the post of the U.N. Secretary General, which, according to the informal U.N. rules, this time around is supposed to go to the candidate from East-Central Europe. However, just as I have predicted in a January 2016 article,3 Lukšić had no chances of getting selected whatsoever. In August 2016, he unceremoniously quit the race because he ended up at the bottom of the list during the latest U.N. Security Council straw poll.4 In other words, Lukšić simply wasted the Montenegrin taxpayers' hard-earned currency to feed his bloated self-esteem and reckless narcissism. All people of good will should hope that he will be held responsible for his profligacy once the corrupt Djukanović regime is thrown into the dustbin of history.

However, in March 2015, when he visited the U.S., Lukšić was still perceived and greeted by the U.S. policy makers as one of the key political decision makers in Montenegro. According to the leaked report, he met with Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Charles (Charlie) Kupchan, a presidential advisor and director for Europe in the National Security Council. Lukšić also met with senators John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services committee, Ron Johnson, chairman of the subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, and Christopher Murphy, vice-chairman of the same subcommittee.

Lukšić's first meeting was with Victoria Nuland at the State Department. He delivered Nuland "a non-paper" (a non-official document that nonetheless provides accurate description of the given issue and serves as the basis of discussion) regarding the measures undertaken by the Montenegrin government in order to make the country more in line with NATO "standards". Lukšić emphasized that Montenegro was making great strides in becoming a full-fledged democracy and painted a rosy picture of the government's activities. He stated that the percentage of those who support NATO membership was 38 percent, whereas, at the same time, the government officials in Montenegro were claiming in the local media that the support was over 50 percent. This shows to what extent the Montenegrin officials have been willing to deceive and manipulate their own citizens in order to push NATO agenda forward. Even the figure of 38 percent in support of NATO membership can be disputed when the polling methodologies of various public opinion research companies, hired by the Montenegrin government, are closely examined.

Lukšić expressed the concern that the government of Montenegro had regarding the March 2015 statement of the French president François Holland that NATO would not be admitting new member states any more,5 but claimed that the French Embassy in Podgorica and other "NATO allies" assured the government that Holland did not think of Montenegro, but of other possible candidates. In truth, however, it is far from clear whether or not Holland referred to Montenegro, which, if he did, would reveal the existence of a rift among NATO allies on the issue of further expansion. As I will show shortly, this rift truly exists as Lukšić's later meeting with Obama's advisor Charlie Kupchan proves beyond reasonable doubt.

Lukšić "informed" Nuland that he would soon be meeting with the German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and that he hoped to receive the full support for the Montenegrin NATO membership from him. He praised the activities of the German ambassador in Podgorica who publicly stated that Holland's statement did not refer to Montenegro. As was pointed out by some Montenegrin analysts at the time, in this way, the German ambassador Gudrun Steinacker violated the basic rules of diplomacy in that she publicly interpreted the speech of the president of another country, whereas the ambassador of the country in question made no comment.6 Her actions exposed the extent to which NATO agitators are willing to degrade and destroy any formal and informal international norms in order to make their ideological narrative seem invincible in the public eye. They are committed to keeping up the appearance that NATO is a harmoniously functioning organization with no internal problems, at any cost, no matter how hypocritical and deceitful their statements truly are.

Nuland was obviously happy to hear from Lukšić about the positive developments on the NATO-Montenegro front. She praised the activities of the Montenegrin government, even though it is, by objective standards, one of the most corrupt governments in East-Central Europe. She promised the help of the State Department in getting Montenegro into NATO, knowing full well (even from Lukšić's manipulative non-paper) that the majority of the Montenegrin population are against it. Curiously, however, she stated that the Department would not "press Obama too heavily" on this issue before the end of the year [2015]. This means that even within the Obama administration, some officials may have had second thoughts on the wisdom of further NATO expansion, including perhaps the president himself.

The second meeting Lukšić had in Washington, DC, the meeting with Charlie Kupchan of the National Security Council, was much more revealing than the meeting with Nuland. Kupchan also received the same non-paper from Lukšić, but elaborated more extensively on the issue of Montenegro's NATO membership. He bluntly stated that the crisis in Ukraine "divided NATO into two camps", which he interpreted as a very negative development. According to the first-hand information he had, one camp wanted to proceed with NATO expansion no matter what, while the other camp was more sympathetic to the Russian concerns. This camp, and one can safely include France and Italy (and perhaps also Slovakia and the Czech Republic) in it, claimed that expanding NATO would unnecessarily provoke Russia and therefore both short and long-term costs of expansion would outweigh the benefits. Their opponents, and one can include here Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states, argued that this reasoning gave too much power to Russia and therefore should be rejected as too apologetic and cowardly. Kupchan claimed that the U.S. would side with this point of view and expected it to prevail in the end. Be that as it may, his statement represents no less than a full confirmation by a high-level U.S. official that NATO is being slowly, but irrevocably split by the aggressive anti-Russian orientation of some of its members and that therefore its inner disintegration has already begun.

If we now take into consideration that the crisis in Ukraine shows no signs of dying down, it is to be expected that these frictions and antagonisms will grow and eventually spill into the open. At the same time, it is also clear that the war-mongering party within NATO will do all it can, using the intelligence and other networks at its disposal, to bring into line the disobedient governments, such as the French, and make them comply. We may therefore expect to see more violent incidents in France and other NATO dissenters in the near future.

During the rest of the trip, Lukšić met with three U.S. senators. Senator John McCain has been one of the most vocal advocates for the Montenegrin NATO membership in the U.S. Congress. He himself visited Montenegro twice and celebrated his 70th birthday there, on board of a multi-million dollar yacht owned by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who married Yeltsin's grand-daughter and is a good friend of the youngest Rotschild, Nathaniel. I have previously written in detail about their relations.7 Every high-level Montenegrin official visiting the U.S. met with McCain and received high praises for him, notwithstanding the government's dismal record in the areas of the rule of law and human rights. This goes to show to what degree McCain is really interested in the forward march of democracy in the world as opposed to the implementation of a U.S. hegemonic agenda and the profits of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. McCain told Lukšić that Montenegro "might unfortunately have to wait for another U.S. president to enter NATO," which again shows that there may be some disagreement at the top of the Obama administration about NATO expansion.

The other two senators, Ron Johnson and Christopher Murphy, repeated the same platitudes about the Montenegrin democracy as McCain, all the while emphasizing the importance of Montenegro's NATO membership not only for the U.S. geopolitical agenda in the Balkans, but also in the Mediterranean as a whole. After all, the coast of Montenegro is the only non-NATO coast left in its entire Northern part.

On the last day of his two-day visit, Lukšić was invited by Damon Wilson, the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, to give a speech on "the future of NATO open door policy" to the audience of public figures, diplomats, and lobbyists. The Atlantic Council is a very influential Washington, DC think tank with offices throughout the world whose main aim is to help establish a global framework in which the U.S. acts as the world's policeman and all other Great Powers are under its control. Since Lukšić was preaching to the choir, his speech was well received. However, the political realities in Montenegro have since proven more intractable than he and his long-time political mentor Djukanović and their NATO sponsors have imagined.

  8. - This article became so popular that it was soon translated into Russian and Bulgarian.
Part II: The U.S. Agents of Influence within the German Government

In the previous installment of my analysis of the leaked Montenegrin government files, I discussed the U.S. visit of Igor Lukšić, who was then the minister of foreign affairs of Montenegro, and his meetings with Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, Charles (Charlie) Kupchan, a presidential advisor and director for Europe in the National Security Council, and three U.S. senators: John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services committee, Ron Johnson, chairman of the subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, and Christopher Murphy, vice-chairman of the same subcommittee.1 Based on the confidential report of their conversations with Lukšić compiled by the Embassy of Montenegro in Washington, DC, I was able to show that there exists a significant rift within NATO as to whether the further expansion of the alliance is a good idea.

It is also interesting to note that the most revealing statements on this matter were made by the president Obama's advisor Kupchan. In fact, it was he who recommended to Lukšić to meet and closely consult with Christoph Heusgen, the advisor to the German chancellor Angela Merkel for foreign and security policy, during his upcoming visit to Berlin. In this way, in my opinion, Kupchan signaled that Heusgen was one of the key U.S. agents of influence placed in the top echelon of the German government and therefore a trusted aide in sustaining and furthering the U.S. geopolitical agenda in Europe, especially its aggressive, militaristic stance toward Russia. And, indeed, as I will show, the leaked confidential report of Lukšić's visit to Berlin, written by the officials at the Embassy of Montenegro in Berlin, bears this out.

Lukšić visited Berlin on March 24, 2015, about ten days after his visit to the U.S. He first met with the German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Steinmeier became the foreign minister of Germany in December 2013 as the result of the grand coalition between the two largest German political parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). While CDU's Angela Merkel kept her job as the chancellor, Steinmeier, as the SPD leader, became the foreign minister. He was also a foreign minister in the earlier grand coalition arrangement from 2005 to 2009 and a vice-chancellor from 2007 to 2009.

What is very curious is that in the last few years, since the eruption of the Ukrainian crisis, Steinmeier has positioned himself in the public eye as the supporter of a less hardline approach toward Russia. He was for instance one of the key advocates of the Minsk Accords I-II, which he negotiated together with the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and which probably offer the only realistic chance of putting an end to the conflict in Ukraine.2 In addition, he has travelled to Russia frequently and met with the Russian president Vladimir Putin.3 And yet, according to the leaked report, during the meeting with Lukšić, there were several instances where Steinmeier expressed a clear hostility toward Russia and the Russian influence in the Balkans.

First, Steinmeier stated that he was pleased with Montenegro in its ability to remain consistent in its foreign policy toward Russia (that is to say, in sustaining the anti-Russian policies, such as the economic sanctions and critical political rhetoric), even though it had found itself under the intense Russian pressure. He claimed that Russia was actively engaged in vastly expanding its influence in the Balkans and inquired whether Lukšić could describe the concrete cases of the Russian activities in Montenegro.

Lukšić appeared eager to comply and pointed out the presence of what he referred to as "the Russian propaganda" for which he accused certain opposition parties, non-governmental organizations, and the Serbian Orthodox Church. He stated that it was this Russian-financed "propaganda" which was responsible for low public support for NATO membership of Montenegro, as if the citizens of Montenegro had not been highly critical of NATO, even before the re-shaping of the Russian foreign and security policy under Putin. This attempt of Lukšić to ascribe the legitimate civic concerns to foreign manipulation was condemned by many Montenegrin public figures after the report was leaked to the press and led to a lawsuit against him by the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro (MNMNE), which is still ongoing.4

Lukšić also tried to assuage Steinmeier's fears about the Russian economic influence in Montenegro by claiming that after the sanctions were put in place, the volume of economic activity had drastically fallen and that the Russians were now generally present only as tourists. Even the number of Russian tourists was declining, Lukšić added (most likely with enthusiasm in his voice), as if this was a good thing and not a serious problem for the Montenegrin budget. This is yet another example of how ideological commitment to the "Euro-Atlantic" [NATO] agenda by the corrupt Montenegrin ruling class, to which Lukšić belongs, goes directly against the vital economic interests of the Montenegrin citizens.

Lukšić's next meeting in Berlin was with Christoph Heusgen, Angela Merkel's advisor, for whom, as I pointed out earlier, there is a strong reason to believe that he is more willing to serve the U.S. hegemonic foreign policy goals in Europe than the national interest of the government he is supposed to be advising. The national interest of Germany is economic cooperation and political detente with Russia, and not antagonistic relations pushed for by the NATO political and military figures and the "war party" in Washington, DC, which includes the members of both the Republican and Democrat political establishments and is ideologically legitimized by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Atlantic Council. The German-Russian animosities have proven disastrous for Germany not once, but twice during the last century and any repetition of hostility would lead to the same tragic outcome.

Heusgen, however, seemed indifferent to the abyss into which the further confrontation with Russia may push Germany, and, in his conversation with Lukšić, he displayed a sharp anti-Russian tone. He demanded to know whether any Montenegrin top officials would attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow scheduled to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the WWII in Europe. As I have written at the time, there was a concerted effort on the part of the U.S.-NATO circles to make sure that no European head of state or government accepted Putin's invitation in order to deepen the isolation of Russia from the international community.5 This effort was largely successful and the only European states that sent their top officials to attend the parade were Serbia and Macedonia.

Lukšić replied to Heusgen that the final decision about the parade had not been made yet, but took Heusgen's hint so seriously that not long after his return to Montenegro, the president Filip Vujanović announced that he would in fact not attend the parade, even though he had already accepted the invitation. This sudden U-turn created a diplomatic scandal as the Russian ambassador to Montenegro Andrei Nesterenko publicly expressed his surprise, underscoring the pitiful lack of independence in the Montenegrin leadership's decision making.6

Heusgen also told Lukšić that Germany would strongly support a positive decision on the invitation to Montenegro to join NATO at the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in December 2015. In fact, he promised that Germany would lobby for the Montenegrin cause among those NATO member states which have publicly stated their reluctance to vote for further expansion, such as France. In addition, Heusgen demonstrated very sophisticated knowledge of the U.S. domestic political process (no doubt due to his close cooperation with Obama's advisor Kupchan) in that he claimed that it would make it easier for the U.S. if the invitation was issued at this meeting rather than at the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, because NATO expansion with just one country (and as small as Montenegro) would be "a difficult sell" in the U.S. Congress. Needless to say, this shows a high degree of conspiratorial non-transparency with the intention to mislead the legitimate representatives of the American people by those political forces whose grand geopolitical design is the militaristic encirclement of Russia.

Moreover, Heusgen promised Lukšić the German logistical and financial assistance in confronting what, based on Lukšić's complaints, he perceived as the Russian influence in the Montenegrin political life. The primary focus of these activities was to be directed at raising the public support for NATO membership (which hovers around 30 percent) as well as supporting the various pro-NATO media outlets and organizations. In fact, it was precisely this type of foreign money infusion that has enabled the pro-NATO camp to stay afloat in Montenegro all these years, considering that NATO membership has no internal grounding or domestic legitimacy in the vast segments of the Montenegrin population.

In conclusion, one can say that this leaked Montenegrin government report has revealed the full extent to which both the German foreign minister Steinmeier and the top Merkel's advisor Heusgen, contrary to their public appearance and rhetoric, have been willing to act as the agents of the anti-Russian U.S. "war party" in Europe. This is a serious matter that needs to be taken into consideration not only by the German people whose representatives they purport to be, but also by the citizens of other EU nations, considering that similar agents of influence operate within their political elites as well. Without the timely discovery and political replacement of these individuals, another big-scale war in Europe may be around the corner.

Dr. Filip Kovacevic, Newsbud-BFP Analyst & commentator, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles & conference presentations and hundreds of newspaper columns and media commentaries. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco. He can be contacted at