‘Russian coup plot claim is an attempt to jumpstart Montenegro’s stalled NATO bid’

Claims of Moscow’s alleged interference in the Montenegrin election as reported by the UK’s The Daily Telegraph are aimed at stirring up further anti-Russian hysteria and jumpstarting the country’s stalled NATO bid, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT.

RT: In terms of the evidence for the story – this is a major accusation to make against a government potentially plotting to assassinate another world leader, one in Europe. Surely an allegation as serious as this surely deserves more than unnamed sources?

Jim Jatras: Well, of course. And to give the smallest bit of defense to these British publications – yes, it is true Milo Djukanovic is making these allegations. Is there any substance or proof to these allegations? No.

As far as I can tell these are baseless and given that they come from Mr. Djukanovic who has a stupendous reputation for corruption and is trying to move forward desperately with NATO accession for Montenegro which has stalled in the Senate for about two months.

It is pretty clear that he is throwing this out on the table red meat in the context of hysteria that is going on in Washington with ‘the Russians did it’ and the attempt by the ‘deep state’, by elements of the intelligence community with their leaks, by the mainstream media that just claimed the scalp of general Flynn and wants to do anything they can to block any rapprochement from the Trump administration with Moscow. And I think Mr. Jukanovic has very artfully inserted himself into this narrative.

RT: So do you think it is down to timing? Do you think it is just about setting the apple cart or is it click bait to the 'Russians are coming' hashtag?

JJ: I think what he is trying to do is use the ‘Russians are coming’ again as a way to jumpstart Montenegro's stalled NATO bid. Because let's remember the debate in Washington isn’t about letting Montenegro in. Montenegro obviously does nothing for our defense.

In fact, if you look at opinions in Montenegro, it is not even clear most Montenegrins want to be in NATO and aligned to us in the first place. The polls seem to indicate the majority are opposed to it. And of course, Mr. Jukanovic won’t hold a poll or a referendum because he knows he would lose it.

But at the same time, we have this anti-Russian hysteria going on, which let's be honest, people like Denis Kucinich have called this the ‘basis of an attempted coup’ to bring down the Trump administration. So I think he is playing into this meme in the hopes of riding the wave of anti-Russian hysteria in Washington to get Montenegro into NATO.

READ MORE: Montenegro assassination claim 'part of psychological warfare operation against Russia'

RT: What about the way the papers have run with this? Just a few days ago when we were talking of interfering with other countries affairs – we had those WikiLeaks about the CIA interfering in French elections – nothing written there. But put in the "R" word – front page news...

JJ: So it seems. And as I say if they simply wanted to report the fact that Mr. Djukanovic is saying that – it is true, he is saying that. But is there any proof behind it? Are they presenting his allegations as they were a fact, even though they are utterly lacking any substantiation? And that is where I think they are really at fault. I don’t know what the internal mechanisms were over the Telegraph when they have decided to run with this story and give it such flash. But I think it is irresponsible journalism, and the kind of ‘fake news’ frankly we expect more from let’s say CNN or other arrogant American media.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.