The Nation Caught In A Bizarre Tug Of War Between The West And Russia | NBC Left Field


Remember this? It went pretty viral, and this man that
Trump shoved, he’s the Prime Minister of Montenegro, a tiny Balkan nation
that never really got much notice.>>Or it didn’t, until this. Inside Montenegro
‘the shove’, as it’s now referred to, drove opponents of the government wild.>>That was nice to see how they respect, or…>>The thing is, this was supposed to be
Montenegro’s big moment, just days away from joining the
NATO military alliance. Those are the countries in black.>>But instead of basking in NATO glory,
little Montenegro’s caught up in a geopolitical tug of war
between Russia and the West. This great power battle involves an
alleged coup plot, several million bottles of Montenegrin wine, and hundreds of
thousands of sunburnt Russian tourists. We’ll get there soon. Hey, it’s Katie.>>And Sky.>>And we are going on a road
trip through Montenegro. First, the coup – or, the alleged coup.>>Prosecutors say the coup
might have succeeded, except that one of the coup plotters
chickened out, and confessed to police. The capital city was put on lockdown and
14 people were charged. Moscow says, all this is bogus,
fake news, absurd. In June, on Facebook, the Russian government accused Montenegro
of fueling anti-Russia hysteria and warned that it could take retaliatory
measures against the country.>>Now, all of this went down
in the capital, Podgorica. It’s a pretty stark place,
full of communist-era architecture. This city was bombed in 1999 during
the Kosovo War by NATO itself. Yep, not long ago, Montenegro and
NATO were at war, and that’s pretty fresh in
some people’s minds.>>In downtown Podgorica, we went to
meet the man accused of colluding with Russia to bring down the government. And it’s true that not all Montenegrins
were dying to join NATO, far from it. According to opinion polls, people in the country were basically
split about whether it was a good idea. That lead to some huge anti-NATO
protests over the past few years.>>Now, let’s hit the road. If you start in Croatia and head south,
then east along the Adriatic Sea, you’ll see the best of Montenegro,
the things tourists come for. The country is in the heart of the Balkans.
Until recently, it was joined in a single
nation with Serbia. And it wasn’t until 2006 that Montenegro
became its own independent country. A single political party, and
more or less the same men, have run the place for more than 25 years.>>This man is no fan of the Montenegrin government, or really of the Russian government,
and he’s not hot on NATO.>>When President of the United States,
Donald Trump, pushed very hard our Prime Minister
in the NATO headquarters in the last NATO summit in Brussels,
it showed us the real nature of NATO. How they respect, or
don’t respect our leader of Montenegro. We started big protests
here in Montenegro.>>Montenegrin officials have accused
opposition groups, including this one, of accepting millions of dollars
of covert Russian funding.>>A few times. We have to be neutral, but [have] great relations
with both geopolitical centers.>>Outside Montenegro,
the country’s known best for its coast. There’s 180 miles of it, and
you can see it best by sea. Empires have fought for
control of this coastline for centuries.>>In 2013, Russia reportedly tried to
buy access to the Port of Bar to use for refueling Russian war
ships en route to Syria. It’s currently being used
by the Montenegrin navy. The coastline is key. See, Montenegro has just 2,000
soldiers in the whole country. But Montenegro’s membership in NATO helps
give the alliance complete control of the Mediterranean coastline,
from Portugal to Syria.>>We’ll drive an hour north now and you can see how stunning it is, but
remember when Russia was threatening retaliatory measures over
the whole NATO thing? Well, it might be partly
playing out at a winery.>>Back in April,
Russia put a ban on wine from Montenegro. Officials said the country’s
wine was dangerous, that some of it was contaminated
with pesticides and plastics.>>But right now, Montenegro’s mostly focused on tourism and
making sure that none of this NATO stuff messes
with the country’s growing industry. Because Russians, often really,
really wealthy Russians, make up a quarter of
the tourists to the country.>>But, in April, the Russian Foreign
Ministry published a statement warning Russian citizens about unfriendly
attitudes towards Russians in Montenegro.>>Radulović is a big figure in Montenegro – flush, glamorous, a famous business
man and deal maker. And that’s given him a global platform
to promote Montenegro to the world.

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