In Montenegro, where Markovic had proclaimed NATO membership their country’s “guarantee of independence,” the combo of the Trump shove and the speech that followed spelled political uproar.
Opponents of the move inside the country pounced, arguing, as Markovic put it in our interview, that the shoving incident with Trump was a sign of how unwelcome the country was in its new alliance. “It is their belief, actually, that this harmless event took place in Brussels will slow down Montenegro and it would harm Montenegro as a NATO member state,” Markovic told me, before dismissing it as “nonsensical.”
By last week, when Markovic flew to a Washington eager to make amends, he was being greeted at the White House by Vice President Mike Pence, signing the official NATO documents at the State Department, and celebrating at a gala dinner at Wilson’s Atlantic Council. But as soon as the membership became official last Monday, Russia issued a threatening statement, complaining of Montenegro’s “hostile course,” blaming “anti-Russia hysteria” inside the country and warning of unspecified “retaliatory measures.”