Perevalnoe, Ukraine: During Russia’s occupation of the Crimean peninsular in Ukraine, masked men without insignia had appeared at Ukrainian army bases and important transport hubs all over the peninsular. Although they declined to say who they were, their Russian accents, military kit and license plates left little doubt that Moscow had sent them.
The locals believed they would protect them from attackers from Kiev and consequently welcomed the Russian soldiers like liberators, bringing them flowers and food and flocking to wherever they set up base as if a travelling circus had come to town. These two women had clearly dressed up for the occasion and flirted with the young men in uniform, who were visibly grateful for the distraction to their sentry duty.
Eventually, Russian soldiers became less anxious to be seen by foreign media chatting with their Ukrainian counterparts across the compound walls.
Local women watch armed men, believed to be Russian soldiers, assemble near a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe, March 5, 2014.