Concerned About Russian ‘Mischief,’ US Defense Secretary to Visit Macedonia


US Defense Secretary James Mattis said he would visit Macedonia ahead of an upcoming referendum on country’s name issue, while expressing concern about possible Moscow interference in the process.

“If you have a vote, Moscow will meddle with it,” seems to be the precept fixed into the minds of senior US leaders these days. Any vote is inherently endangered by Russia’s meddling techniques, which are so advanced that US intelligence is still either unable or simply too worried to furnish evidence of their existence. But that hasn’t stopped the public barrage of allegations.

This time, the vote is in Macedonia over the nation’s name problem. A conflict with Greece, one of whose provinces is also named Macedonia, has been behind Greece’s blocking the Balkan country’s accession to the EU and NATO for a while (Greece is a member of both organizations). The Macedonian government, however, is so desperate to enter the two blocs in search of a better life for its people that it is eager to rename the entire country to do so.

Unsurprisingly, patriotic forces within the country have opposed the idea fiercely. This has brought the country to a political stalemate, which can only be solved by a referendum, scheduled for September 30, as a part of political agreement with Greece.

Ahead of said referendum, US Defense Secretary James Mattis will visit the country, to “make it clear that the United States supports the Macedonian…

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