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International relations

EU battles to fend off China's 'mask diplomacy' in Balkans

Russia also seeks to expand influence amid slow pandemic aid

Chinese President Xi Jinping is depicted on a Belgrade billboard expressing appreciation for his country's assistance in combating the novel coronavirus. The text reads "Thanks, brother Xi."   © Reuters

BRUSSELS -- As the novel coronavirus spreads in the Balkans, the European Union finds itself in a fierce battle for influence around the region with China and Russia, which have been quicker to send medical staff and other support.

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