Update: Jan 3, 2019
Rachel Maddow added two more examples of Donald Trump dancing to the Russian propaganda lines, as well as repeating the Trump remarks about Montenegro. The two new examples are Trump repeating the Russian line attempting to create a fiction that Poland was going to invade Belarus and that Russians invaded Afghanistand because of terrorism, also fiction. The Montenegro background is below.
Trump dances to the Russian foreign policy tune one again, this time immediately after the Helsinki one on one meeting with Vladimir Putin. In an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox, July 17, 2018, Trump said that NATO member Montenegro is an “aggressive” nation and he tried to scare his listeners to believe it is a flashpoint for World War. III.. The implication is that the US should not come to its defense if attacked by Russia. What a dangerous and ignorant position. "Aggressive Montenegro" has 625,000 inhabitants, less than the size of the City and County of Denver. Its 2000 person army is only 500 more than Denver's police force. What they have is a fjord, the Bay of Kotor, the deepest and best warm water haven for submarines and military fleets in the Mediterranean area. Russians has tried throughout history to control it, including an attempted coup in October 2016 as Russia tried to thwart Montenegro’s membership application to NATO. This spooked the US. National defense officials so much that the Senate approved their admission to NATO in 2017 to block Russian control of it.
The only flashpoint to World War III is if Russia took it over by force or by a coup. (it is far away from Russia' borders) in order to control the fjord. They tried and failed in 2016 and Montenegro saw its future in the West and sought NATO membership. The only deterrent to that is NATO membership that would trigger a response.. The aggressor is Russia, not Montenegro. The best deterrent is NATO's pledge to respond and Russia's fear that we would. Weakening that pledge would only invite Russia's attempt once again to grab the country and control the fjord.
The number of accusations thrown at Trump in the wake of Helsinki are many. Looking at the total picture of Trump's foreign policy that often advances Russian national security interests (breaking up NATO, trashing and refusing to commit to mutual defense of the Baltics and Balkans, and denying and obstructing investigations into Russian meddling and hacking into US democracy), I will add mine to the list: Putin's enabler. Whether that is treason, or Putin has a compromat on him, or he is Putin's useful idiot, a Putin puppet , a collaborator, a colluder, a conspirator, a traitor, much of that rests on the findings of Mueller. For now it is fair to say that he is an enabler of Russian security interests that rarely coincide with ours. Whatever we call him, we can be sure that this will fall on deaf ears of the lower 40% polled who still approve of him who forgive him of any transgressions and we can only hope that the rest of the voters are paying attention with open minds and wide open eyes focused on national security concerns and the preservation of American democracy.
There is a history that includes Paul Manfort and Montenegro. Below is a blog post of March 2017 during the debate of whether Montenegro should be admitted to NATO. Pay attention to the Balkan Reports description of the strategic position of the Bay of Kotor and Russian designs on controlling it...far more important to them than grabbing Crimea.
Update 4/12/2017: Pres. Trump agreed to admit Montenegro into NATO, expanding NATO.
There is a Russian/Manafort connection with Montenegro dating years ago, but before NATO is an application for membership. At their first NATO meeting during the time of the Trump administration,
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not attend and will be in Moscow instead. The Russian interest in Montenegro is historic. Sen. McCain has been interested and knowledgeable about Montenegro and got embroiled over a spat with Libertarian isolationist Rand Paul. The spat got personal. The following post is from a facebook posting recently. The Manafort Russian connection is most likely the subject of the FBI investigation into Russian influence in the US Presidential Elections in 2016.
Per Balkan Reports, the impression of those in the Balkans is that Secretary of State Tillerson supports Montenegro's membership in NATO. The entire Balkans are concerned with Russia's increasing influence and presence in their region and look at this as a way to counter this.
The Manafort/Russian/McCain issue connection was described in https://www.thenation.com/article/mccains-kremlin-ties/
Strategic importance of Montenegro to NATO, NATO wants to control the Adriatic and maybe in the future use it as a naval base