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Will Russia expand by means of armed conflict before 2020?
Until 1991, the Soviet Union encompassed 22.4 million square kilometers, clearly claiming the title of the largest nation on Earth. That title is retained today by the Russian Federation, although diminished by the independence of the 14 nations that broke away from the Soviet Union in the 1990s.
A degree of nostalgia for the days of the Soviet Union still lingers among the former Soviet republics. Russia's current president, Vladimir Putin, holds that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a political disaster.
In 2014, Russian military invaded and annexed the Crimean peninsula, a move condemned internationally and still unrecognized by all but a handful of nations. The aftermath of the annexation has seen armed conflict in Ukraine's eastern regions, in which Russian-speaking separatists (allegedly supported by an unknown number of Russian military) fought with government forces in 2014 and 2015.
More recently, Russian military activities in Kaliningrad, a non-contiguous Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania, has neighboring countries on edge. The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are members of NATO, but are also former Soviet republics, and the military buildup in Kaliningrad has raised concerns that an invasion of the Baltics, as an effort to reclaim Soviet territory, may be upcoming. In response to the threat, nearby Sweden reinstated mandatory military service.
In June 2016, the Secretary General of NATO warned of Russian military buildups "in Arctic, the Baltic, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean," adding "We must respond to that."
Will Russia pursue expansion by military means by 2020?
This question will resolve as positive if Russia claims that territory of a sovereign nation is now under its authority following military activity in the area conclusively tied to Russian forces, as reported by multiple credible, verified independent sources, on or before January 1, 2020.
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