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EU Cautions Russia Over Balkans

The European Union has cautioned Russia not to drag the Western Balkans into its growing row with the West over Ukraine.

Noting "tensions" between the EU and Russia, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said it was in the interest of both "to find and develop ways of cooperation, and not of confrontation."

Mogherini was speaking on December 5 during a visit to Sarajevo.

The countries of the Western Balkans are eager to join the EU, but diplomats say Russia is exploiting economic hard times and pro-Russian sentiment among some Orthodox Christian Slavs to build influence in the region.

While Slovenia and Croatia have both joined the EU, expansion to the likes of Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo has been slowed by foot-dragging on reform and deep unease within the EU itself over the wisdom of further enlargement.

Based on reporting by Reuters