Montenegro is dragging its feet over implementing restrictions on Russia, activists say, despite the country having already aligned itself with European Union sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine.
Alongside the bloc’s 27 member nations, Montenegro last week declared that it had joined the EU’s restrictions on Russia.
“By completely joining the restrictions, the economic sanctions and sanctions for individuals, Montenegro is continuing its policy of full agreement with the EU’s foreign policy,” Montenegro’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In doing so, Montenegro committed to ban overflight of its airspace and airport access for Russian carriers, ban transactions with the Russian Central Bank, join the Swift ban for several other Russian banks, as well as halt the broadcasting of Russian state-owned media.
At the same time, the Montenegrin armed forces pledged to donate non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine, such as protective vests and ballistic helmets.
According to Dejan Milovac from the well-known civic watchdog MANS, however, the only concrete restrictions on Russia placed by Montenegrin authorities has been the banning of Russian flights.
“While EU member countries and the US are especially targeting Russian oligarchs and their property,” Milovac told reporters, “the Montenegrin government is acting passively when it comes to concrete actions to implement sanctions. As soon as possible, it should make a decision to operationalize EU sanctions on our territory.”
On 3 March, Montenegro’s Ministry of Capital Investments confirmed that Russian flights were to be banned. Authorities have, however, delayed discussion on placing restrictions on Russia Today and Sputnik broadcasts. According to local media reports, this postponement is tied to insufficient support from within the coalition government.
On 27 February, Albania unveiled a host of restrictions on Russia, including a ban on flights, freezing more than 650 Russian assets within its borders, alongside a range of economic sanctions. A week later, Albania’s Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) said it was monitoring how national media was covering the situation in Ukraine.
“During the monitoring process, but also based on the complaints received by the AMA, inappropriate content was examined,” it said, “unfounded and intolerant [content] reflecting nostalgia and glorifying against the promotion of democratic values widely accepted by Western European countries and progressive democracies.”
Earlier this week, Russia added Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia to its list of “enemy” states after all three joined EU restrictions on Russia.
Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.
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