A photo taken on October 29, 2016 shows a partial view of the Chisinau skyline. Ex-Soviet Moldova will cast ballots on October 30, 2016 in a presidential election viewed as a tug-of-war between supporters of European integration and advocates of closer relations with former master Moscow. Presidential candidate Igor Dodon, who heads the Socialist Party, has vehemently advocated against turning toward Europe. Candidate Maia Sandu of the centre-right opposition, currently second in voting intention polls, has promised to make Moldova European.
One can imagine Putin having tea in the morning on the balcony of his dacha outside of Moscow, looking strategically out over the borders of the Russian Federation, pondering his next steps to ensure the re-establishment of Russia's great power status. First, he observes the established borders of Russia proper, territory he already controls, the post-Soviet borders he inherited from his predecessors, Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev. Putin has made no secret that he is not entirely pleased with this inheritance: He would rather gaze out across a Russia that includes several if not all of the Central Asian republics, the Baltics and Ukraine. Looking a bit farther afield, Putin can see the borders of NATO countries, which are similarly established: Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and the rest of the alliance. These nations Putin views as direct threats to Russia. And then there are the regions in between these two sets...
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