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Pro-NATO Prime Minister Claims Victory In Estonian Election

The prime minister of Estonia has claimed victory in a parliamentary election overshadowed by fears fueled by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region last year.

Prime Minister Taavi Roivas' center-right Reform Party won 27.7 percent with almost all the votes counted.

Its main challenger, the opposition center-left Center Party, was second with 24.8 percent.

The Center Party signed a cooperation deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party in 2004.

Even though Estonia is a member of NATO and the EU, many are worried that Moscow might try to boost its influence in the country, a former Soviet republic where one-fourth of the 1.3 million residents are ethnic Russians.

Defense Minister Sven Mikser said on March 2 that Estonia should improve its defense capabilities "to maintain solidarity with Western nations."

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters