SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow would continue providing natural gas to Serbia on terms favorable to its ally.

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Putin voiced confidence that a new contract for gas supplies to Serbia would be signed quickly to replace the current one that expires at year-end.

“We will find a solution that would definitely be acceptable to our Serbian friends,” Putin said at the start of talks at his Black Sea residence in Sochi with visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic,

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Putin also noted that Russia would continue to staunchly support Serbia amid recent tensions with Kosovo.

“We support your position on the Kosovo settlement, and I hope that the situation will eventually evolve in a way that would conform to the interests of all people living in the region,” he said.

Kosovo was a Serb province until a 1998-1999 insurrection by ethnic Albanian rebels sparked a bloody Serbian crackdown. That pushed NATO to carry out a 78-day bombing campaign to force Serbian troops out of Kosovo. The war left more than 10,000 people dead. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia hasn’t recognized it. Kosovo-Serbia ties remain tense despite a European Union-facilitated dialogue over the past decade to normalize them.

Vucic hailed close ties between Serbia and Russia and particularly noted a high level in defense cooperation.

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Although formally seeking EU membership, Serbia has refused to align its foreign policies with the 27-nation bloc and has instead strengthened its alliance with Russia and China.