At its easternmost tip, the border between the Crimean peninsula and Russia runs through a channel, where a forty-minute ferry ride connects the Ukrainian city of Kerch to the Russian side. In recent days, travelers to Kerch have been met by soldiers toting automatic weapons who don’t seem inclined to leave anytime soon.
Russia has effectively seized Crimea over the course of the past week, sending thousands of unmarked troops to take control of strategic points across the peninsula, surround Ukrainian military bases, and occupy the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol.
At the port in Kerch, soldiers, presumably Russian, roamed aimlessly, reading newspapers on benches outside the ferry ticket hall and chatting with travelers waiting to cross over to the other side. They wore fatigues and carried AK-47s, but their magazine clips were empty and their helmets unstrapped; they weren’t worried about the potential for resistance.
"Everyone here is friendly with each other," said one wide-eyed young soldier who declined to give his name. "We used to have this thing called the Soviet Union together."
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