A protest march will be held in the capital Podgorica on Saturday in solidarity with Ukraine, amid continuing fears that Russia plans to invade the country.

March in Support of Ukraine Planned in Montenegro

Ukrainians march in Kyiv amid tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border. Photo: EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

A pro-Ukraine march will be held on Saturday in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica as a gesture of support amid simmering Russian-Ukrainian tensions and fears of an invasion.

Ukraine’s Consul in Podgorica, Mykhailo Shmatov, told BIRN that similar marches were being organised by the Ukrainian diaspora worldwide, stressing that the rally in Podgorica has no provocative intentions.

“The idea is to show that Ukrainians around the world support Ukraine in this difficult time, when there are about 150,000 Russian soldiers and military equipment on our border. We want to show that citizens of those countries join Ukrainians with support and show solidarity with our country,” Shmatov told BIRN.

“Many Montenegrins share and support common democratic values ​​with Ukraine. Therefore, we hope to see ordinary Montenegrins and state officials on our march,” he added.

According to the embassy, the walk will start from the Millennium bridge in Podgorica, pass the Foreign Ministry and parliament and finish at the main Independence Square.

On February 12, several thousand Ukrainians rallied in their capital, Kyiv, to show unity amid fears of a Russian invasion, filing through the centre of the city in a column chanting, “Glory to Ukraine” and carrying Ukrainian flags and banners that read: “Ukrainians will resist” and “Invaders must die”.

Shmatov said that his country never interfered in Montenegrin internal affairs or its relations with other countries, including Russia. But he said Ukraine considers Montenegro a reliable partner, which supports its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“This is not about interfering in the interstate relations between Montenegro and Russia. It is about respecting the principles of international law, human rights and freedoms, democratic and friendly principles of international relations,” he said.

Montenegro’s ties to Russia date back to the reign of Tsar Peter the Great who took the small Orthodox principality under Russia’s protective wing.

But relations between the two mainly Orthodox Christian countries have cooled, particularly since 2014, when Montenegro – targeting membership of NATO, joined European Union-backed sanctions imposed by the EU and the United States on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and involvement in the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Relations cooled further after Montenegro joined NATO in 2017.

On February 9, the Russian, US and Ukrainian embassies in Montenegro traded accusations with one another over Ukraine, after the US embassy called on Montenegro to stand with the Kyiv government.

The spat escalated after the US ambassador, Judy Rising Reinke, had an article published in the local media on February 3 in which she urged American and Montenegrin citizens to stand with Ukraine against “Russian aggression” to ensure a free and stable Europe.

On February 8, the Russian embassy responded by accusing the US ambassador of promoting NATO expansionism and anti-Russian propaganda in Montenegro.

While Europe and the United States voice concern over the buildup of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine, Montenegro has not commented or offered to assist any potential US-led response to a possible Russian invasion.

On February 11, the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry recommended its citizens to consider leaving Ukraine “due to growing tensions and an unpredictable security situation”.

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