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With the United States preoccupied with two wars, Russia is taking advantage of an opportunity to expand its influence and control over neighboring states. The first phase is nearly complete, and Stratfor analyst Marko Papic says pressure now is growing on the Baltics.

As an aside,

"extortion by corrupt officials in Russia has got so bad that some Western multinationals are considering pulling out altogether,” Alexandra Wrage, the head of a US anti-bribery group, told Reuters. “There appears to be a sense of near-complete impunity, a sense of entitlement … there is no sympathetic low-level management, no sympathetic mid-level management, or sympathy at the top (for anti-bribery efforts).”

Russia really worries me. I hope I’m wrong.

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Source: Stratfor Global Intelligence (via YouTube), March 9, 2010.

Source: Time to Worry About Russia's Spreading Influence?