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West Sees Red: 'Sympathy for Russia is Rising' in the Balkans

© Sputnik / Sergei Guneev / Go to the photo bankResidents of Belgrade with pictures of Vladimir Putin and Russian flags during Russian president's visit to Serbia on October 16, 2014.
Residents of Belgrade with pictures of Vladimir Putin and Russian flags during Russian president's visit to Serbia on October 16, 2014. - Sputnik International
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Russia has always enjoyed a special relationship with some Balkan nations and the West has never been happy about it. Western capitals seem to have finally decided it is time to act.

Of late the European Union and the United States have been trying to break the bond between Moscow and the Balkans by including the region in their sphere of influence.

A woman wears a tee-shirt showing a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin. - Sputnik International
'I Like Vladimir': Russia's Special Place in the Heart of Balkan Nations
For Brussels, driving a wedge between the two sides means accelerating the long stagnant process of the bloc's expansion. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have all been promised that they will join the EU someday but the bureaucrats in Brussels have been notoriously vague on details.

Not surprisingly, they are not the ones spearheading the process now – Berlin is. "The European Commission does nothing in the Balkans now … 'without a green light from Germany,'" the Economist quoted an unnamed senior diplomat as saying.

Germany, often seen as the biggest advocate of the European integration, has been committed to integrating the Balkan nations into the union for some time. This became evident in July when Angela Merkel paid a visit to three countries in the region – Albania, Bosnia and Serbia.

© REUTERS / Marko DjuricaGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic before their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia July 9, 2015
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic before their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia July 9, 2015 - Sputnik International
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic before their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia July 9, 2015

There is an abundance of reasons for the US and EU's growing interest in the Balkans, but one in particular stands out.

"Sympathy for Russia is rising in some [Balkan] countries," the weekly newspaper asserted. For instance, Serbia is contemplating taking part in a joint military exercise scheduled to be held in Russia in September.

The West sees Russia's warm relations with the Balkans as a dangerous geopolitical development which must be undermined. And expanding the bloc seems to be the way to do it. 

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