Ukrainian border guards stand at a checkpoint at the border with Moldova breakaway Transnistria region, near Odessa March 13, 2014. (REUTERS/Yevgeny Volokin)
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Broken promises of help from the West; a tragic history of Russian invasion that goes back centuries; a painful awareness that conflicts in this volatile region are contagious. These are the factors that make nations across Eastern Europe watch events in Ukraine and tremble. Specifically, concerns run high that after taking over the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin may be tempted to try a land grab in Moldova, where Russian troops are stationed in the breakaway province of Trans-Dniester. It is one of several "frozen conflicts" across Eastern Europe, a list to which many in the West have now added Crimea. That history feeds skepticism that NATO would come to the aid of eastern member nations in the event of a Russian attack.Mutual economic dependence also lowers the likelihood of an armed conflict between Russia and the West.But the reliance of both Eastern and Western European nations on Russian energy also gives the West fewer options in taking a hard line against Moscow.
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