NATO foreign ministers invited Montenegro to join their military alliance on Wednesday, despite Russian warnings that doing so would be a provocation, Reuters reported.
“This is the beginning of a very beautiful alliance,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg declared.
Stoltenberg said inviting the tiny country sends a message to Moscow that it doesn’t have a veto on NATO’s eastward expansion. Moscow opposes any NATO extension to former communist areas, and has even called the group's so-called open door policy “irresponsible,” according to Reuters.
NATO foreign ministers broke off formal contact with Russia in April last year after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and sparked conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Montenegro's prime minister called the invite a "historic day."