Thousands gathered to in the streets of Belgrade, Serbia, to catch a glimpse of Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to the Serbian capital on Thursday.

The visit was scheduled in a bid to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Bystanders waved Serbian and Russian flags outside the church and held banners reading: “Thank you President Putin” in both languages, while main streets were closed off in preparation for the Russian president’s arrival.

In a press conference earlier in the day, Putin said Russia would back Serbia in finding solutions to its issues with Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Although Serbia wishes to join the EU, it remains a close ally of Russia. The leaders are set to sign a variety of deals including energy and defence.

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