Vladimir Putin on Wednesday accused the US and the West of destabilising the Balkans with Nato expansionist policies as Serbia prepared a hero’s welcome for the Russian president. Mr Putin arrives in Serbia on Thursday for his fourth visit to the Balkan country since 2001.
A fountain on Belgrade’s main square was yesterday illuminated with the colors of the Russian and Serbian flags, bookstores in the capital are displaying works about Putin, and a plateau in front of the biggest Orthodox Church in the Balkans is being hastily paved before his planned visit to the temple.
Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia even as the country formally seeks European Union membership.
Belgrade has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and has promised it will stay out of Nato.
Mr Putin told two Serbian pro-government newspapers in an interview published Wednesday that “the policy of the United States and certain Western countries aimed to foster their dominance in the region constitutes a major destabilising factor.”