In 2008, Russia gained control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia from neighboring Georgia, and then last month, on the anniversary of occupying Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a 25 year Treaty of Alliance and Integration, solidifying control over South Ossetia.
The treaty handed border control to Russia, which would also formally take charge of South Ossetia's economy and military. Residents of the region would also have easier access to Russian citizenship. The agreement, according to opponents, violates Georgia's sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
Russia signed a treaty with Abkhazia in November.
In Ukraine, Russia has been fueling a civil war, giving support to separatists that have been directly supplied, and assisted, by Russian personnel and equipment.
In southern Moldova a region called Gagauzia has signed a regional cooperation agreement with Russia, an economic agreement that places a lot of focus on Moldova, a small country on the western side of Ukraine. The agreement with Gaguazia follows the breakaway of the Moldova enclave of Transnistria, a region between Moldova and Ukraine that has self-declared itself its own country long ago, maintaining Russian as its dominant language, and keeping a Russian army base in place.
Tucked between Lithuania and Poland, is Kaliningrad, an orphan Russian territory that gives Russia a strategic military location right in the middle of the Baltic States, Poland, and the Scandinavian nations across the Baltic Sea. Poland's concerns have led to the vulnerable member of the European Union building border towers.
The threat of Russian expansionism also has other Eastern European countries taking notice, and preparing for the possibility of war. While American military vehicles patrol the Russian border in the hopes of reassuring Europe they are safe from Putin's aggression, citizens in the border nations are training for the worst just in case.
Poland is giving civilians military training in case there is an invasion. Neighboring Lithuania is restoring the draft and teaching citizens what to do in case of war. Nearby Latvia has plans to give university students military training next year.
While NATO remains the primary alliance designed to protect the region, the failure of the United States to properly recognize the aggression of Russia and respond with what would normally be America's military might (and what is becoming, under President Obama, America's dwindling military might) has eastern Europe realizing they may have to fight off being a target of Russia themselves.
The fighting in Ukraine is not far away, Kaliningrad is next door, and Russia has shown the willingness to fly military aircraft at will around the Baltic Sea area.
The Poles, in particular, believe they have grounds for needing to be on alert. Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been shy about singling out Poland, a U.S. ally, calling the former Soviet satellite a prime enemy in the struggle over Ukraine, accusing Poland of training "Ukrainian nationalists" and instigating unrest in the region.
Recently Moscow said it will place state-of-the-art Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad for a major exercise.
The island nation of Cyprus, a European Union member in the Mediterranean Sea that has been in such financial trouble that the government seized hundreds of millions of dollars from bank depositors, many of them Russians, a couple years ago, has also warmed back up to Russia. A recent deal between the two nations, which is accompanying a relationship Putin has described as "always being truly friendly and mutually beneficial" includes a greatly improved relationship with Cyprus that comes with a $2.5 billion Russian loan.
If the friendly alliance becomes more than merely an attempt to break out of financial sanctions against Russia by the United States, Cyprus could also serve as a strategic Russian location in the Mediterranean that could serve to keep an eye on Europe from the south, while also giving Russia a staging area near the Middle East, just west of Israel.
In addition to flying aircraft around the Baltic Sea, making deals with various European nations, and docking at secret Arctic Sea bases, Russia has also been flying military aircraft around American airspace, largely near the Bering Strait.
Though technically remaining in international airspace, the increase of Russian military aircraft buzzing along American airspace along the Alaskan coast has military personnel wondering if they are simply patrolling the area, or are projecting the newly assertive Russian attitude of expansionism, and chest thumping.
The Alaskan region is not the only place around the United States that Russian aircraft have dared to tread. Bombers have been detected as far south as 50 miles off California's northern coast, a move that was no doubt deliberately provocative.
Russian aircraft have also pushed the limits in Europe, around Britain, Ireland, Sweden and Norway.
According to NATO, allied jets were scrambled to monitor Russian warplanes around Europe more than 100 times last year, about three times as many as in 2013. Russian air patrols outside its borders were at their highest level since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Activity by the Russian military is also present in the western Atlantic and areas in and around the Gulf of Mexico.
President Vladimir Putin's government has also announced plans to reopen 10 former Soviet-era military bases in the Arctic, including 14 airfields.
A shipyard in Severodvinsk, the largest city on the Russian Arctic Coast, has begun building four nuclear-powered submarines for the first time in decades, according to Russian news reports. The Pentagon has confirmed those reports as accurate.
Constitutional Rights PAC contributor Douglas V. Gibbs is a radio host, author, and one of America’s leading authorities on the Constitution. He is also a member of the California Republican Assembly and a United States Navy veteran. Visit his website here.