Putin Accuses US And West Of Destabilsing Balkans Through NATO
Mr Putin said the US and certain Western countries "aimed to foster their dominance in the region".
Vladimir Putin (Picture: PA).
Vladimir Putin has accused the US and the West of destabilising the Balkans with NATO expansionist policies, as Serbia prepares 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.
Serbia has maintained close links with Russia, even though the country formally seeks EU 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 that "the policy of the United States and certain Western countries aimed to foster their dominance in the region constitutes a major destabilising factor".
NATO's top defence chiefs discussed the Balkan country of Kosovo, and the ongoing NATO mission there, on Wednesday.
KFOR is a 28 nation peacekeeping force that involves the British Armed Forces but Britain’s presence is being reviewed after the tiny Balkan country defied Alliance calls not to form an Army.
NATO sees the move as inflaming already simmering tension between Kosovo and neighbouring Serbia.
However, chairman of NATO’s military committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, said the situation remains "unchanged" and that it is "not affected by any change in the transition of the Kosovo Security Force”.
A fountain on Belgrade's main square has been lit in the colours of the Russian and Serbian flag, ahead of Mr Putin's arrival.