Montenegro welcomes US Senate NATO approval

Montenegro officials are welcoming the U.S. Senate's decision to ratify its entry into NATO, calling it a great step for the tiny Balkan nation.

Montenegro is set to become NATO's 29th member following the Senate's overwhelming ratification on Tuesday.

Russia strongly opposes the Western military alliance's expansion in the Balkans.

Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said Wednesday that Montenegro never doubted U.S. support for the country.

He says Montenegro's membership in NATO will be its biggest foreign policy success since it gained independence and split from Serbia in a 2006 referendum.

Russia considers Montenegro and other western Balkan states part of its sphere of interest. Wary of Russian influence in the still-volatile region, NATO wants Montenegro to join the alliance.