"The EU has lost its game in this region. You only fed us with EU subsidies because you did not want the Russians to be here. You turned a blind eye to the fact that our leaders cheated. It backfired," Igor Dodon told the Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet.
Moldovan-Russian relations soured dramatically after Chisinau signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014, which was then hailed by a majority of Moldovans. Today, the pendulum is swinging to the opposite side. According to Dodon, mending fences with Russia is crucial for the impoverished Moldovan economy to avoid collapse. According to Dodon, Moldova would be better off financially as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a Moscow-driven customs union between former Soviet republics.
"The EU made it clear that Moldova will not be eligible to join for another 10-15 years. Besides, you see very well what is going on in the EU. Britain is leaving, and other countries may follow suit," Dodon said.
Despite billions in EU aid money, Moldova has been sinking deeper into corruption and poverty. In 2015, over a billion dollars (or 20 percent of the nation's GDP) was stolen from three banks in arguably the largest heist of the century.
"This was the money Moldova had received from the EU and the US for reforms, which were never to happen. Instead, we saw plundering and robbery accompanied by pro-European slogans," Alexei Tulbure, a former UN ambassador and current leader of Chisinau-based NGO Helsinki Citizens Assembly, told Hufvudstadsbladet.
Dodon's rise to power continues a "Kremlin-friendly" trend in the Western world. US President-elect Donald Trump is praising Putin. Bulgaria's new president wants closer relations with Moscow. In France, Republican nominee François Fillon is expected to face nationalist Marine Le Pen (both labeled 'pro-Russian' by French media) in the 2017 elections runoff.