Europe

NATO chief sees growing Russian influence in the Balkans

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is closely following reports about growing Russian influence in the Balkans and is cooperating with regional allies to strengthen their ability to resist outside interference.

NATO chief said Thursday in Sarajevo that the alliance has seen "several reports about increased Russian influence" in the Balkans, in particular "about Russian intervention in the political process in Montenegro" last year.

Montenegrin authorities say Russian nationalists were behind an allege coup attempt there that included plans to assassinate the pro-Western prime minister because of his government's bid to join NATO.

The Kremlin has denied involvement, but has actively supported local groups that oppose having Montenegro, a traditional Slavic ally, become the 29th member of NATO.