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Russia Says Not Putting Pressure On Serbia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rejected Western accusations that Moscow is trying to increase Serbia's dependence on Russia and push it away from the European Union.

Lavrov spoke at a joint news conference with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic after their meeting in Moscow on December 19.

Lavrov said Russia has been accused of "increasing political and economic pressure on Serbia" and added, "We are not doing this."

He called such accusations "neocolonial slang."

Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Russia of interfering in the affairs of European states seeking closer ties with the EU and of seeking to increase its influence in the Western Balkans by making countries there economically and politically dependent on Russia.

Lavrov said he and Dacic had discussed South Stream, a natural-gas pipeline project that Russia said it was scrapping earlier this month after it ran afoul of EU competition rules.

Lavrov promised that any Russian decisions on new routes for gas would take the interests of Serbia, which was to have received gas via South Stream, into account.

Based on reporting by TASS, Interfax, and RIA Novosti