Eastern Europe has dealt with extreme disunity and instability for many years. Economic hardships are exacerbated by aging populations, shrinking work forces, and political corruption. Recent developments in Ukraine and Russia have changed the region’s political and economic layouts, and a suppression of rights has occurred. Eastern Europe’s continuous threat from Russia’s leader, Putin, is exacerbated by the region’s socioeconomic, ethnic, and linguistic divisions.
The region is demographically changing, as there is a high elderly population and a negative growth rate. Young intellectuals are emigrating because of local unemployment, and the workforce may be unable to support the aging generations. Minority rights are also in question. The large amounts of ethnic diversity and historical conflict are represented today. Some, such as Turks in Macedonia and Magyars in Bulgaria, are being relocated back to their original territories. Land once owned by the communist government is being grabbed by corporations, while only remaining in the hands of its inhabitants for a short time.
Presently, Ukraine faces a constant threat from the Russian military and is struggling to establish a stable country. Most Eastern Ukrainians are Pro-Russian Separatists, and most Westerners are Nationalists who want to maintain Ukrainian independence from Russia. This internal divide makes it increasingly difficult for Ukraine to stand its ground against Russian military penetration. In order to combat NATO’s expansion, Russia created separatist groups to maintain a presence abroad. The separatists in Ukraine do not have a stable court system in place, which is causing Eastern Ukraine to experience a dangerous backup of prisoners and detainees, collateral damage of the already chaotic regional conflict. Russia is also a primary natural gas supplier to Europe, and key pipelines flow directly through Ukraine and into major European countries. This causes hesitation for NATO countries that might otherwise defend Ukraine’s interests against Russian penetration. NATO is attempting to safeguard its needs while also maintaining surveillance on Russian activity in Ukraine and the Scandinavian and Baltic nations.
South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia, Transdniestria in Moldova and now Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine all support The Russian Federation. Recently, Putin opened a new military theme park while revealing 40 modern ICBMs. NATO is changing its strategy and will act in a less passive role. Poland is organizing a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), and Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe are beginning to mobilize. The United States has stated commitment to the VJTF with military, intelligence, and logistical support. Several hundred U.S. paratroopers are presently in Ukraine to train the Ukrainian National Guard, while Putin continues to deny Russian military presence in the country.