Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Word ‘Russia’ Goes Unspoken as Mattis Meets Balkan Defense Chiefs

Word ‘Russia’ Goes Unspoken as  Mattis Meets Balkan Defense Chiefs

ZAGREB - Nobody at the meeting said the word “Russia” while the cameras were rolling.
But Moscow was clearly on everyone’s mind as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sat down on Friday in Croatia with Balkan defense chiefs who accuse Russia of trying to sow instability and division in this corner of Europe.
“We are not naive and we are keenly aware that some elsewhere would wish to see us fail in our endeavors here today,” Mattis said in his opening remarks at the meeting, before reporters were escorted out of the room.
“Those that seek to divide us for their own reasons will not enjoy our dedication to working together.”
The group is currently chaired by Montenegro, which joined NATO last year in defiance of Moscow after accusing Russian spies of orchestrating an attempted coup to derail the accession. Moscow called the accusations anti-Russian hysteria.
Among the Balkan leaders attending was the defense chief from Macedonia, which was formally invited this week by NATO to begin accession talks. That came despite opposition from Russia, which sees its influence in the region diminishing. (Reuters)