Around midnight on February 21, Serbian-born Dalibor Jaukovic threw a single Yugoslav-made M75 grenade into the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, before accidentally detonating a second grenade and blowing himself up in the process. No casualties were reported from the embassy.
Jaukovic fought for the Yugoslav armed forces during the 1998-1999 Kosovo War. A rapid, complicated, and intense conflict, the Kosovo War pitted Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslav forces against the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)—and eventually NATO. The implications of this conflict remain visible today, as the Kosovo Force NATO peacekeeping mission sustains a 4,000-strong presence to ensure border security and assist with state-building activities.
Jaukovic’s presence on social media reveals strong pro-Russian and pro-Yugoslav sentiments. In particular, he denounced the United States’ leadership during the Kosovo air campaign, blaming the U.S. for Kosovo’s choice to declare independence from Serbia. He was part of a Serbian-language Facebook group called Russophiles and posted memes supporting Marxism and Leninism. His posts belittled Milo Djukanovic, the pro-Western former-president and prime minister who was responsible for positioning Montenegro to join NATO. Jaukovic repeatedly condemned Montenegro’s NATO membership.
“He was a real patriot during the NATO bombing. He served with the Yugoslav anti-aircraft defenses,” explained Jaukovic’s relative Milutin Dragicevic.
Police are investigating possible motives for the attack but have stated that they do not believe it was an act of terrorism. After closing as a precautionary measure, the embassy has since reopened.
“The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Government of Montenegro have strongly condemned the attack on the U.S. Embassy and express their regret for this event,” Interior Minister Mevludin Nuhodzic said.
Although Jaukovic’s attack was unsuccessful, it is symptomatic of growing tensions in the Balkans. In early February, the European Commission announced the possibility of Serbia and Montenegro gaining EU membership by 2025, which would make them the first of the Western Balkan countries to do so. For pro-Russian advocates like Jaukovic, this is concerning evidence of the encroachment of the West on the region. The hostile competition between EU and Russian interests in the Balkans has contributed to increased unrest.