Putin visits Serbia for military parade and talks on natural gas pipeline opposed by EU

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Serbia for talks that are expected to focus on economic issues and energy, including construction of the South Stream pipeline to transport Russian natural gas to Europe that has been opposed by the European Union.

Putin's visit comes as Serbia finds itself caught in the middle of Moscow's row with the West over Ukraine. The Balkan nation is increasingly confronted with a choice: continue down its officially declared path toward EU membership, or give up that goal and forge even closer ties with its traditional Slavic ally Russia.

Putin on Thursday will attend a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, from the Nazi German occupation by the Red Army and Communist Yugoslav Partisans.