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European Debt Crisis

Russian influence rising in Balkans, Baltics, Central Europe

A week before a crucial election, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik traveled to Russia for a Formula One race — not because he's a big fan but for yet another meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Footage from the race in Sochi showed Putin wishing Dodik "great success" in the Bosnian election and the Serb presenting Putin with a Republika Srpska pin, the Serb-controlled autonomous region in Bosnia.

The video was a blatant display of Russia influence in one of Europe's most sensitive regions — the fragile Balkans — where the West has sought to encourage reconciliation and reform after a brutal ethnic war in the 1990s.

The brief photo opportunity...

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