US official urges vigilance over Russia's role in Balkans

A U.S. official has urged vigilance over Russia's policies in the troubled Balkans, where Moscow has sought to increase its influence and undermine that of the West.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee said Wednesday in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, that the United States will "strongly defend and protect" its own interests and those of its allies.

Yee says, "we do know from experience that the intentions behind many of Russia's moves are not good, are not consistent with the interests we believe are the interests of the countries in this region."

Yee has singled out an attempted coup in Montenegro in October, allegedly organized by Russia to thwart the country's NATO bid, and Russia's energy policy in the region.

Yee says what Russia is doing "bears close scrutiny."