Europe

Russia's top security official wants closer ties with Serbia

  • Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, right, listens Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, during a meeting at the Serbia Palace, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to step up its influence the traditional Balkan ally seeking European Union membership. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, right, listens Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, during a meeting at the Serbia Palace, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to step up its influence the traditional Balkan ally seeking European Union membership. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • Members of Serbian police honor guard line-up in front of a red carpet set for a welcome ceremony for visiting Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev outside the Serbia Palace, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to step up its influence the traditional Balkan ally seeking European Union membership. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    Members of Serbian police honor guard line-up in front of a red carpet set for a welcome ceremony for visiting Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev outside the Serbia Palace, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to step up its influence the traditional Balkan ally seeking European Union membership. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev listens Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, during a meeting at the Serbia Palace, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to step up its influence the traditional Balkan ally seeking European Union membership. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev listens Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, during a meeting at the Serbia Palace, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to step up its influence the traditional Balkan ally seeking European Union membership. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)  (The Associated Press)

Russia's top security official is urging closer cooperation with Serbia as part of increased efforts by Moscow to boost its influence in the Balkan country that is seeking EU membership.

Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of President Vladimir Putin's Security Council, on Wednesday urged Serbia to sign a "memorandum of understanding" on security next year. He says "we have such documents with partners of utmost trust."

Serbia's Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic says "there is room for improvement" in security ties.

Patrushev, believed to be one of President Vladimir Putin's most influential allies, will also meet Serbia's foreign minister and president later Wednesday.

Serbia remains a rare Russian ally in Europe. Belgrade wants to join the EU, but has refused to impose West-backed sanctions on Russia.