VIDEO: Russia trying to intimidate its neighbours - NATO

Speaking in Bucharest on Thursday, Stoltenberg sought to reassure Romania that it can count on NATO for support in the region.

He was in the country inspecting a site where the alliance will open a facility in reaction to the crisis in Ukraine.

Moldovans choose between Russia, Europe in local elections

The key post is for the next mayor of Chisinau, the capital, where pro-European incumbent Dorin Chirtoaca faces pro-Russian challenger Zinaida Greceanai, a former prime minister of the Communist Party.

A low turnout in the city of one million will benefit the 59-year-old Greceanai.

"I hope we will clarify things.... and build something that is certain, definitive, irreversible, for the future of Chisinau and Moldova," Chirtoaca said after voting.

"Residents have a great desire to see deeds and not just statements," said Greceanai.

Putin vows to further strengthen Russian military


The Russian leader, whose approval ratings reached an all-time high this month despite a bruising recession, said a "powerful army equipped with modern weapons is the guarantor of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia."

Speaking at Thursday's Kremlin meeting with graduates of Russian military academies, Putin also vowed to continue a sweeping military modernization effort that envisions the purchase of large numbers of new weapons.