Russia Ups the Ante in Crimea by Sending in the ‘Night Wolves’


On Friday afternoon, the regular flight from Moscow touched down in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, in the south of Ukraine, carrying the leader of a Russian motorcycle gang known as the Night Wolves. Alexander Zoldostanov, an old friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was wearing his usual get-up – a flaming wolf’s head stenciled onto his black leather vest – but for once he was not the most intimidating figure on the scene. Since the morning, dozens of masked troops had been sauntering around Crimea’s main airport, armed to the teeth but refusing to identify themselves. In some ways, they seemed to have the same goal as Zoldostanov, who goes by the nickname The Surgeon. They were sending a signal to the revolutionary government in Ukraine that they were no longer in charge on this peninsula.

Who exactly was in charge remained a mystery throughout the day, and a…

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