Eastern Europe has become the geopolitical point of contact between Russia and NATO. This has led to the closure of social and economic development policies in Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe seems to become a weapons depot. This issue will undermine civic institutions and reduce migration to these areas.
Eastern Europe, includes the countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, and Slovakia. It also includes the republics of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. “Eastern Europe” often refers to all European countries that communist regimes previously ruled (the Eastern Bloc) (New World Encyclopedia). As it says in AIES, Eastern Europe plays a decisive role for Russia. Moscow seeks to ensure its presence and long term links to the countries in the shared neighbourhood. The stability and security of its shared neighbourhood directly impact the Russian interests.
Expansion of NATO
According to The Conversation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance. The U.S., Canada and several European nations formed it in 1949. Its aim was to contain the USSR and the spread of communism. Now, the view in the West is that it is no longer an anti-Russian alliance. It is instead a kind of collective security agreement aimed at protecting its members from outside aggression. NATO agreed over time to the requests of European democracies to join the alliance. Former members of the Soviet-established Warsaw Pact also joined NATO in the 1990s. Three former Soviet republics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – joined NATO in 2004.
Similarly, The New York Times states that after the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO expanded eastward. It took in most of the European nations that had been in the Communist sphere. The Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, once parts of the Soviet Union, joined NATO. As a result, NATO moved hundreds of miles closer to Moscow, directly bordering Russia. In 2008, it stated that it planned to enrol Ukraine, though that is still seen as a far-off view.
Geopolitics of Eastern Europe
The war in Ukraine is going to change geopolitics profoundly. THIS MORNING we are defending our country alone,” stated Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, on Friday, February 25th. It was the day after Russia’s invasion began. Mr Zelensky added it was “the beginning of the war against Europe”. Yet Europe’s only forces in the field were those of Ukraine (The Economist).
Russia’s invasion threatens the sovereignty of Ukraine. The attack has also undermined the entire geopolitical order, according to German security experts. Johannes Varwick told DW. “We are now back in a kind of confrontation of blocs. Only the borders of the Western bloc have shifted eastward compared to the time of the Cold War.” Johannes Varwick is a political scientist at the University of Halle (DW).
President Zelensky is asking the west to join Ukraine in the war against Russia. This idea shows a deep change in the geopolitics of Eastern Europe. These geopolitical changes indicate that Western Europe will become a point of contact between Russia and NATO.
US troops in Eastern Europe
According to THE HILL, The Pentagon is deciding if it should add more U.S. permanent troops to NATO-member countries in Eastern Europe. Mara Karlin said. Mara Karlin is the assistant Defense secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities. She said, “given this current security environment, the troop presence may be short-term or long-term.”
The committee’s ranking member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) had also commented in this regard before Russia’s attack. He had said there were discussions of sending permanently-stationed U.S. troops to Romania and other Baltic countries. The U.S. currently contributes 635 troops to Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping mission in the country. The U.S. keeps a rotational force of about 500 troops in ex-Soviet nation Lithuania. The Biden administration has already surged almost 15,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, the government has asked Congress for $6.4 million to respond to the conflict. Those billions would pay for American forces operating in Europe and weapons the U.S. government is sending to Ukraine.
As it says in The New York Times, the United States has sent anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons to Ukraine. It increased the American military presence in NATO countries that border Russia. In addition, it ordered an additional 7,000 troops to Europe.
Consequences of geopolitical changes
Geopolitical changes in the region have destructive consequences for Eastern Europe’s countries. The conflicts between Russia and NATO creates insecurity and economic damages. Eastern Europe’s countries will pay for the conflicts.
Social and economic development in Eastern European will face serious problems. Eastern Europe’s countries will become weapons depots for NATO. People in Eastern Europe will experience life with a feeling of insecurity and the fear of imminent wars. As global experience shows, wars are usually planned by the US. Eastern Europe’s countries should remember that the US is not a country that they can trust.
The presence of NATO troops and weapons in Eastern Europe’s countries will create a military situation in these countries. Thus, they will lose their capacity for tourist attraction. Besides, due to the sanctions imposed on Russia, the Easters European countries will also experience economic damages. They will lose the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Finally, migration has long been vital to the social and economic development of Europe. NATO, especially the US, can create wars and conflicts in the region, which can threaten migration to Eastern Europe’s countries.