Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Germany Helped Prep Russia for War, U.S. Sources Say - The Daily Beast

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David Mdzinarishvili/Reuter
The world was shocked when Russian special operations forces invaded Crimea with advanced technology, drastically improved operations, and with so much operational security that even agencies in the U.S. intelligence community didn’t see it coming. In Washington, government and congressional leaders are wondering how the Russian special operations forces got so good, so fast, without anyone noticing. Some are wondering how much help Russia had from the West.
In 2011, for example, the German defense contractor Rheimetall signed a $140 million contract to build a combat simulation training center in Mulino, in southwest Russia, that would train 30,000 Russian combat troops per year. While the facility wasn't officially scheduled to be completed until later this year, U.S. officials believe that Germany has been training Russian forces for years.
Rheinmetall defended the project even after the invasion of Crimea, up until the German government finally shut it down late last month. But many tracking the issue within the U.S. government were not happy with Germany's handling of the Russian contract, and worry that some of the training may have gone to the kind of special operations forces now operating in and around Ukraine.
“It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine,” one senior Senate aide told The Daily Beast. “The U.S. government should call on our NATO allies to suspend all military connections with Russia at this point, until the Russians leave Ukraine, including Crimea.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, Rheinmetall’s partner in the deal was the Russian state-owned Oboronservis (“Defense Service”) firm. The training center, modeled after one used by the German Bundeswehr, was to be “the most advanced system of its kind worldwide.” Reinmetall saw the contract as a precursor to several more projects “in light of the plans to modernize the equipment of the Russian armed forces.”
U.S. officials, now looking back, are privately expressing anger and frustration about the German work with the Russian military. While definitive proof is hard to come by, these officials look at the radical upgrade of Moscow’s forces–especially its special operations forces–experienced since they last saw major action in 2008's invasion of Georgia. The U.S. officials believe that some of the German training over the last few years was given to the GRU Spetznaz, the special operations forces that moved unmarked into Crimea and who can now be found stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine.
“People are pissed,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. “The chatter inside the Pentagon is that the training they were providing was going to Spetznaz.”
Rheinmetall did not respond to a request for comment.
Russia maintains close economic ties with many NATO states–especially Germany. By some estimates, the country exported nearly $50 billion in goods to Russia in 2013. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of German jobs depend on Russian trade.
The armed forces of NATO members have also been working with their counterparts in the Russian military, on and off, for years. Russia has held joint military exercises with both Germany and the U.S., for example. America has bought Russian helicopters to use in Afghanistan. And Moscow allows NATO equipment to pass through Russian territory as the gear comes into and out of the war zone.
“It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine.”
To the Congressional Research Service, “Rheinmetall’s construction of an army training center could be viewed in the context of the broader bilateral defense cooperation between Germany and Russia,” the service writes in its report. “The German…  government’s approval of the contract to construct a training center also appears to be in line with long-standing German policy to promote military training and joint exercises with partner countries.”
But some on Capitol Hill see the Rheimetall contract as only one example of the folly of several NATO countries that rushed to sign lucrative defense contracts with Russia after President Obama declared a new “reset” policy with the Russian Federation. Lawmakers have tried to halt the French sale of theMistral, an amphibious warship, to the Russian Navy. Some are also unhappy about the Italian sale of Lynx armored personnel carriers to Russia.
A Senate aide said that one of Rheinmetall’s contributions was to help the Russian army and GRU Spetznaz upgrade their gear. Reports show that the Russian military units both inside Ukraine and amassed on its eastern border are sporting brand new communications equipment, body armor, personal weapons, and ammunition. Taken together, it gives them a huge tactical advantage over the beleaguered Ukrainian armed forces.
Top defense officials are now acknowledging that Russia’s military has been revolutionized in recent years. This month, Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, the director for strategic plans and policy for the military’s joint chiefs of staff, told Congress in open testimony that in recent years Russia has created regional commands that “coordinate and synchronize planning, joint service integration, force movement, intelligence support, and the tactical employment of units” in what he deemed “snap exercises,” or military training missions that can be ordered at a moment’s notice. 
In the testimony, Pandolfe also said Russia has placed greater emphasis on the use of Special Operations Forces as well as information and cyber warfare.  Experts said that Russian military doctrine was dramatically updated in the past few years and clearly set out Russia’s plans for modernization and a focus on highly trained rapid reaction special forces. But in the West, the papers were not well read, much less understood.
The Russians also changed their doctrine to reflect that they viewed the threat as not coming from a conventional war, but from the need to protect Russian populations in unstable states facing what they deemed to be Western aggression.
“This wasn’t just about implementing lessons learned from [the 2008 invasion of] Georgia, it was about giving them a basis for a different kind of operations,” said Fiona Hill, a former top intelligence official on Russia, now with the Brookings Institution. “We should have been paying more attention to this. There have been these signals for a long time, but we have been misreading them.”
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Ukraine crisis: Photographs 'show Russian troops' in eastern Ukraine - Americas - World

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Ukraine officials handed the documents to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe last week to denounce the presence of Russian troops in government buildings seized by militiamen. The photos have since been distributed by the US state department.
The 11-page document contains images of soldiers in  Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine wearing similar uniforms and brandishing Russian weapons. Their authenticity could not be independently verified by The Independent.
One set of photographs focuses on a bearded man who appears to have been photographed in Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine this year. He was also photographed in an image taken in Georgia in 2008. Another set of photographs show another militant in eastern Ukraine, and in a family photo of a Russian special forces group.
The US State Department said the photographs help bolster claims of ties between Russia and armed militiamen in eastern Ukraine. Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the photographs add "further evidence of the connection between Russia and the armed militants."
Russia has repeatedly denied it has deployed Russian units, special services or instructors in eastern Ukraine. Last Thursday, President Vladimir Putin rejected accusations that Moscow is fomenting unrest in the region.
 Document distributed by the US State Department identifying Russian special forces in Kramatorsk and Sloviansk The photographs come after a shootout erupted at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian insurgents in Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine killed three people and triggered a new round of recriminations between Kiev and Moscow.
While the Ukraine government said it was the fault of provocateurs from outside the country, the Russian foreign ministry placed the blame on so-called Ukrainian nationalists, the Right Sector, which later denied their involvement in the shooting.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov accused Kiev of a violating the Geneva accord signed last week, in which all sides agreed to de-escalate the situation and called on the illegal groups of militiamen that have seized government buildings to vacate the premises.
Kiev fears Russian forces could enter the country and seize more Ukrainian territory under the pretext of maintaining peace in the region.
Meanwhile, US vice president Joe Biden has arrived in Ukraine in a show of support for the new political leaders of Ukraine against "humiliating threats".
In the most high-level visit of a US official since the crisis erupted, Mr Biden said the Obama administration stands with Ukraine and is ready to provide assistance.
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Biden pledges support for Ukraine as east edges closer to union with Russia | World news

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Joe Biden and Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Joe Biden meets Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kiev: the US vice-president warned Russia that 'it’s time to stop talking and start acting'. Photograph: Sergei Chuzavkov/AP
The US vice-president, Joe Biden, has thrown US support – and funds – behind Ukraine's interim government as anti-Kiev militia in the country's east edged a step closer towards secession from Kiev and joining Russia.
A "people's assembly" in Luhansk, where heavily armed militia have been occupying the security service headquarters for more than two weeks announced on Tuesday morning that they would hold a two-stage referendum on the region's future.
The armed men remain in the regional government buildings they have occupied for several weeks despite a peace deal struck in Geneva that called on pro-Russian rebels to turn in their weapons and vacate the buildings they had seized in nine cities.
Russian and western leaders have accused each other of not fulfilling their end of the bargain following a shootout in eastern Ukraine that left at least three dead this weekend.
Speaking in Kiev following meetings with the western-allied leadership, Biden told Russia on Tuesday that it was "time to stop talking and start acting".
Biden met members of the parliament, the acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, and the acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and warned that the country must "fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system" before pledging $50m (£30m) to help Ukraine's government to carry out political and economic reforms, including $11m to help conduct the presidential election on 25 May.
Biden also announced an additional $8m in non-lethal military assistance for the Ukrainian armed forces, including bomb-disposal equipment, communications gear and vehicles.
In Luhansk, voting for a Ukrainian president will be preceded by a vote for independence. The first phase of the referendum, planned for 11 May, when voters will be asked whether the region should become an autonomous entity. A second phase, planned for 18 May, will ask whether Luhansk should be independent or join Russia.
Pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk have also promised to hold a referendum on the region's "sovereignty" by 11 May.
Ukraine's interior ministry has reportedly created a special "Timur" battalion to fight separatism in the Luhansk region. Although the unit would appear to take its name from its commander, army veteran and champion power lifter Timur Yuldashev, he said on Ukrainian television it was so named because Timur in the Uzbek language means "ironclad".
"I'll try to do everything so that this battalion will indeed become ironclad, so that it becomes a unit that can help fend off the threat of separatism in our Luhansk region and the breakup of our nation," Yuldashev said.
So far, police in Luhansk have allowed the building occupation and rallies outside to proceed unimpeded. The anti-terrorist operation announced by Kiev last week to regain control over the east of the country has achieved little success, with some soldiers defecting to the rebel side and surrendering six infantry fighting vehicles to militia in Slavyansk.
During his meeting with Biden, heavyweight boxer and Kiev mayoral candidate Vitaly Klitschko called on the US and Europe to adopt fresh sanctions against Russia that would "include all sectors of the economy and actually be painful". The US and its European partners, which have greater trade ties with Russia, have limited their sanctions to visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials, an approach that hasn not noticeably affected the Kremlin's policy on Ukraine.
Klitschko also called on the US to help equip the Ukrainian military, which has reportedly suffered from shortages in manpower and supplies.
With a question mark hanging over the application of more dramatic sanctions, the US navy announced it will send combat dolphins and sea lions to Ukraine for Nato war games in the Black Sea.
This is the first time US and Russian combat dolphins could face each other in the open ocean, Russian media reported.
When Russia annexed Crimea, it took control of a Urkainian combat dolphin unit – a programme it has promised to develop.
Also on Tuesday, Russian authorities barred Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev from all Russian territory for five yearsy, citing a law banning foreign nationals who are accused of threatening public order. The ban on Dzhemilev, who left the peninsula for a trip to Kiev on Tuesday morning, came a day after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, rehabilitated Crimean Tatars of political crimes they were accused of by Joseph Stalin, who deported most of the ethnic group during the second world war.
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So Far, Russia's Oil and Gas Allow It to Act Badly

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Updated April 22, 2014 7:47 a.m. ET
Of all the lessons one might draw from Russia's bullying of Ukraine, this may be the most coldblooded of all: If you want to behave badly, it helps to have a lot of oil and gas. Much will be forgiven, or at least ignored.
European nations, international energy companies and China are all, in their own ways, driving home the point. The Europeans are afraid of pushing economic sanctions against Moscow too far lest they be cut off from the Russian natural gas that provides a significant share of their energy.
The international energy companies are busy reassuring the Russians that they will keep working to help develop Russian energy supplies, the Ukraine crisis notwithstanding.
And the Chinese—well, they may be on the verge of completing a deal that has been under negotiation for 10 years to begin buying a lot of Russian natural gas. Russian officials said last week that they expect the negotiations to be completed before Russian President Vladimir Putin visits China in May.
For Mr. Putin, a China deal would amount to a multibillion-dollar strategic security blanket. If European nations to Russia's west don't want to buy his gas because of his annexation of Crimea and intimidation of Ukraine, never mind. He soon will have a large market for his gas to the east as an alternate.
At the outset of the Ukraine crisis, it seemed possible that its impact on Russia's energy-based economy might be different. Sen. John McCain said, only half jokingly, that Russia is a "gas station masquerading as a country," and therefore should be uniquely vulnerable to sanctions because its economy sits on such a narrow and precarious base.
The masquerade, though, may turn out to be a pretty good one. It's true that Russia badly needs the revenue from energy sales—and modest sanctions appear to have prompted some outflow of capital from Russia—but Moscow's customers appear to feel equally vulnerable. In an interview with the Washington Post's Lally Weymouth a few days ago, Poland's foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, said that "today's strategic commodity in Europe is gas, and we take about 30% of our gas from Russia, as does Europe. But we overpay because Russia has managed to create monopolistic arrangements."
Mr. Sikorski and his Polish colleagues are more hard-nosed than most about the Russians. He says Russia needs Polish money more than Poland needs Russian natural gas, and he called for an energy union in Europe to create some more security.
But he also said in the interview that economic ties are "why we are reluctant to impose sanctions on Russia. We would rather Russia stop doing what is giving rise to the need for sanctions."
Meanwhile, international oil companies show little sign of reconsidering their energy arrangements with Russia. In recent days, executives of Royal Dutch ShellRDSB.LN -0.31% Royal Dutch Shell PLC B U.K.: London GBp2385.57 -7.42 -0.31% April 22, 2014 12:42 pm Volume : 2.24M P/E Ratio 14.22Market Cap GBp146.72 Billion Dividend Yield 4.51% Rev. per Employee GBp3,137,83024202400238023609a10a11a12p1p2p3p4p 04/22/14 Russia 'Strategic' for Oil Maj... 04/21/14 Iraq Oil Output Exceeds Hussei... 04/20/14 Shale Boom Winners: Quality, N... More quote details and news » RDSB.LN in  Your Value Your Change Short position BP BP.LN +1.04% BP PLC U.K.: LondonGBp487.05 +5.00 +1.04% April 22, 2014 12:42 pm Volume : 15.47M P/E Ratio 6.15 Market CapGBp89.04 Billion Dividend Yield 4.69% Rev. per Employee GBp2,891,000 04/22/14 Dim Sum Bond Offerings Surge 04/21/14 Iraq Oil Output Exceeds Hussei... 04/18/14 BP Spill Fines Pay for Inland ...More quote details and news » BP.LN in  Your Value Your Change Short position and Statoil STL.OS-1.03% Statoil ASA Norway: Oslo kr172.50 -1.80 -1.03% April 22, 2014 1:39 pm Volume : 1.67M P/E Ratio 13.77 Market Cap kr555.78 Billion Dividend Yield 4.06% Rev. per Employee kr26,690,30017617417217010a11a12p1p2p3p4p5p 04/20/14 Shale Boom Losers: Too Many Le... 04/08/14Statoil's Helge Lund on the Va... 04/03/14 Former BP Chiefs Join Forces t... More quote details and news » STL.OS in  Your Value Your Change Short position all have indicated they are pushing ahead with—and in some cases expanding—projects they have launched to develop Russian oil and gas.
Bob Dudley, BP's chief executive, said that Western sanctions would have no impact on his company's business and that his firm remains "rock solid with its investment in Russia." BP has a 19.75% stake in the state-controlled Rosneft oil company.
Meanwhile, China's leaders undoubtedly are torn between conflicting impulses over Russia's behavior in Ukraine. On one hand, China, fearful of ferment among ethnic groups on various points along its country's borders, long has been a stickler for respecting territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders. The idea of giving indigenous groups within a sovereign state the right to cite cultural or ethnic factors as a rationale for breaking away—the justification Russia used to seize Crimea—can't be a pleasing precedent for Chinese leaders.
On the other hand, if Russia has a new incentive to diversify its energy customer base away from its traditional European clients, the energy-hungry Chinese seem happy to oblige. So it was telling that Russian media last week quoted a deputy prime minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, as saying the decadelong effort to negotiate a deal to ship Russian gas to China is near completion. On top of that, he said, the two countries also are interested in more Russian oil exports to China as well as energy projects in Crimea—the very piece of Ukraine that Russia has essentially swallowed.
What lessons might there be for the U.S. in all of this?
In the short run, the developments illustrate why it will be tough to persuade allies to increase sanctions on Russia.
In the long run, perhaps the situation can create new motivation for the U.S. to achieve real energy independence, plus the ability to go further and help allies ease their own dependence on both Middle Eastern oil and Russian natural gas.
Write to Gerald F. Seib at jerry.seib@wsj.com
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U.S. Plans Military Drills in Eastern Europe

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WASHINGTON — The United States plans to carry out small ground-force exercises in Poland andEstonia in an attempt to reassure NATO’s Eastern European members worried about Russia’s military operations in and near Ukraine, Western officials said Friday.
The moves are part of a broader effort by NATO to strengthen the alliance’s air, sea and land presence in Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s new assertiveness in the region.
It is not yet clear what additional troop deployments the United States and other NATO nations might undertake in Eastern Europe after the exercises and to what extent the moves would ease anxieties there.
The land-force exercises the Obama administration is planning are extremely modest.
The exercise in Poland, which is expected to be announced next week, would involve a United States Army company and would last about two weeks, officials said. A company consists of about 150 soldiers.
The exercise in Estonia would be similar, said a Western official who declined to be identified because he was talking about internal planning.
Although the exercises would be short, the United States is considering other ways to maintain a regular ground-force presence in Eastern Europe by rotating troops and conducting training there.
“There’s an entire range of possibilities and measures that are being considered,” Defense SecretaryChuck Hagel said on Thursday in a joint news conference with Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak. “Rotational basis of training and exercises are always part of that.”
The company-size Army exercise that is planned is far from the sort of NATO deployment that Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, suggested this month when he told reporters that he wanted the alliance to deploy two combat brigades with as many as 5,000 troops each in Poland.
This week, NATO’s top military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, gave members of the alliance a range of options for strengthening its military posture in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, along with his own recommendations.
The measures include immediate, midterm and long-term steps. One option, General Breedlove said in an interview this month, is to move the 4,500-member American combat brigade from Fort Hood, Tex., to Europe. But Obama administration officials have not publicly supported such a step.
The first hint that the Obama administration plans to announce that American troops would be sent to Poland was provided on Friday by The Washington Post, which noted that Mr. Siemoniak had said that the move had been agreed to on a political level but provided no details.
The United States has already sent 12 F-16 fighter jets and 200 support personnel to Poland.
NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said this week that the alliance would fly more air patrols over the Baltic region and that allied ships would deploy to the Baltic Sea.
Mr. Rasmussen left open the possibility for additional deployments, including on land.
“More will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come,” he said.
NATO officials have said that a number of member nations in addition to the United States were offering to provide ground troops, which could be sent to Eastern European members through the end of the year.
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Under Russia, Life in Crimea Grows Chaotic

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SIMFEROPOL, Crimea — After Russia annexed Crimea practically overnight, the Russian bureaucrats handling passports and residence permits inhabited the building of their Ukrainian predecessors, where Roman Nikolayev now waits daily with a seemingly mundane question.
His daughter and granddaughter were newly arrived from Ukraine when they suddenly found themselves in a different country, so he wonders if they can become legal residents. But he cannot get inside to ask because he is No. 4,475 on the waiting list for passports. At most, 200 people are admitted each day from the crowd churning around the tall, rusty iron gate.
“They set up hotlines, but nobody ever answers,” said Mr. Nikolayev, 54, a trim, retired transportation manager with a short salt-and-pepper beard.
“Before we had a pretty well-organized country — life was smooth,” he said, sighing. “Then, within the space of two weeks, one country became another.” He added, “Eto bardak,” using the Russian for bordello and meaning “This is a mess.”
One month after the lightning annexation, residents of this Black Sea peninsula find themselves living not so much in a different state, Russia, as in a state of perpetual confusion. Declaring the change, they are finding, was far easier than actually carrying it out.
The chaotic transition comes amid evolving tensions in nearby eastern Ukraine, where the possible outcomes include a Crimea-annexation replay.
In Crimea now, few institutions function normally. Most banks are closed. So are land registration offices. Court cases have been postponed indefinitely. Food imports are haphazard. Some foreign companies, like McDonald’s, have shut down.
Other changes are more sinister. “Self-defense units,” with no obvious official mandate, swoop down at train stations and other entry points for sudden inspections. Drug addicts, political activists, gays and even Ukrainian priests — all censured by either the government or the Russian Orthodox Church— are among the most obvious groups fearing life under a far less tolerant government.
In fact, switching countries has brought disarray to virtually all aspects of life. Crimeans find themselves needing new things every day — driver’s licenses and license plates, insurance and prescriptions, passports and school curriculums. The Russians who have flooded in seeking land deals and other opportunities have been equally frustrated by the logistical and bureaucratic roadblocks.
“The radical reconstruction of everything is required, so these problems are multiplying,” said Vladimir P. Kazarin, 66, a philology professor at Taurida National University. (The university’s name, which derives from Greek history, is scheduled to be changed.) “It will take two or three years for all this chaos to be worked out, yet we have to keep on living.”
On a deeper level, some Crimeans struggle with fundamental questions about their identity, a far more tangled process than merely changing passports.
“I cannot say to myself, ‘O.K., now I will stop loving Ukraine and I will love Russia,’ ” said Natalia Ishchenko, another Taurida professor with roots in both countries. “I feel like my heart is broken in two parts. It is really difficult psychologically.”
The Crimean government dismisses any doubts or even complaints.
“Nonsense!” said Yelena Yurchenko, the minister for tourism and resorts and the daughter of a Soviet admiral who retired in Crimea. These “are small issues that can be resolved as they appear,” she said, adding, “It might result in certain tensions for the lazy people who do not want to make progress.”
Legions of Russian officials have descended on Crimea to teach the local people how to become Russian. In tourism alone, Ms. Yurchenko said, Crimea needed advice about Russian law, marketing, health care and news media.
“Can you imagine how many people need to come to work here for just that one sector?” she said in an interview, explaining why even her ministry could not help anyone find a hotel room in Simferopol. “We also have transportation, economy, construction, medicine, culture and many other things.”
Other changes in national identity elsewhere, like the “velvet divorce” of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, happened with more advance planning. Crimeans feel as if they went through the entire reverse process in 1991, when Ukraine left the Soviet Union, which had transferred the peninsula to Ukraine from Russia in 1954. Confused? So are they.
For Crimeans, every day overflows with uncertainty.
Food imports, for example, have dwindled in the face of murky, slapdash rules. The Crimean authorities recently banned cheese and pork from Ukraine, then announced that full Russian border controls would be put in effect on Friday. Shoppers are suddenly finding favorite brands of ordinary items like yogurt unavailable.
Citing logistical problems, McDonald’s closed. Metro, a giant German supermarket chain, also shut down. Most multinational businesses want to avoid possible sanctions elsewhere for operating in Crimea.
Flight connections have been severed except to Russia. Crimea officially moved an hour ahead to Moscow time, but cellphones automatically revert to Ukrainian time.
In Dzhankoy, about 55 miles north of this capital city, Edward A. Fyodorov, 37, has been selling ice cream since he was 9 years old. Those sales eventually led to a fleet of 20 refrigerated trucks. He used to import all manner of food from Ukraine, including frozen buns and salad fixings for McDonald’s, plus various goods for Metro supermarkets and 300 smaller grocery stores.
Business is off 90 percent, he said. Five to seven truckloads a day have diminished to about one a week. He has been looking for Russian suppliers, but products cost about 70 percent more and transportation issues are thorny.
Crimea lacks a land border with Russia, about 350 miles away through Ukraine. The lone ferry crosses to Crimea from an obscure corner of the Caucasus. An expensive bridge promised by the Kremlin is years away.
“It is impossible to make any plans or forecasts,” said Mr. Fyodorov, voicing an almost universal lament. Even if he found work, he said, closed banks make payments impossible.
Long lines snake outside the few Russian banks operating. (Some Crimeans waiting in line resorted to a Soviet-era tactic of volunteering to maintain epic lists — at one passport office the list stretched to more than 12,000 names.) President Vladimir V. Putin announced Thursday that he hoped to have Russian banks functioning normally in Crimea within a month.
The Kremlin, which has announced plans to make Crimea a gambling mecca, set an official deadline of Jan. 1, 2015, for the transition. The initial cost allocated “to all Crimean programs” this year will be $2.85 billion, Mr. Putin said, but given the promises the Kremlin has made for everything from infrastructure to doubling pensions, the eventual annexation bill is expected to climb far beyond that.
Prices are often quoted in both Ukrainian hryvnias and Russian rubles, but the exchange rate fluctuates constantly. Even the simplest transactions like paying taxi fares result in haggling by calculator.
Land sales, despite surging demand from Russians wanting seaside dachas, have stalled because land registration offices are closed.
Maxim and Irina Nefeld, a young Moscow couple, had dreamed about living near the sea for so long that they were on Crimea’s southern coast seeking land on March 18, the day Mr. Putin announced the annexation.
They found a pine-covered lot, a third of an acre with a sea view, for $60,000. They agreed to buy it, but could not complete the deal without the land office, or find a bank to transfer the money.
The next day the owner asked for $70,000. Mr. Nefeld went back to Moscow to get it in cash. When he returned on April 10, the landowner demanded $100,000.
Russian laws leave some groups out in the cold. Russia bans methadone to treat heroin addiction, for example. As local supplies dwindle, the daily dosage for 200 patients at the clinic here has been halved.
“It is our death,” said Alexander, 40, declining to identify himself publicly as a recovering addict. Unaware that methadone was illegal in Russia, he voted for annexation.
Crimeans are occasionally alarmed by armed men in uniforms without insignia who materialize at places like Simferopol’s train station, inspecting luggage and occasionally arresting passengers. Various people detained in protests against the referendum a month ago have not resurfaced.
When confronted, the uniformed men tell Crimeans that they are “activists from the people” who are “preserving order.”
Archbishop Kliment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, vilified by its Russian counterpart, said Russian priests with armed supporters had threatened to confiscate churches in at least two villages. His 16 priests sent their families and their most valuable icons to the Ukrainian mainland for protection, he said.
Natalia Rudenko, the founding principal of the capital’s one Ukrainian school, said city officials fired her shortly after a member of the self-defense forces visited, demanding to know why the school was still teaching Ukrainian and not flying the Russian flag. Ms. Yurchenko, the tourism minister, said the school could continue to teach Ukrainian, since the new Constitution protected the language, but it would need to add Russian classes.
It is hard to tally the many branches of government not functioning.
Court cases have been frozen because the judges do not know what law to apply. Essential procedures like DNA testing must now be done in Moscow instead of Kiev.
One traffic officer confessed he had no idea what law to enforce — he was being sent to school two hours a day to learn Russian traffic laws.
Lawyers, their previous education now irrelevant, plow through Russian legal textbooks wrestling with the unfamiliar terms. “I won’t be able to compete with young lawyers who come from Russia with diplomas in Russian law,” said Olga Cherevkova, 25, who was previously pursing a Ph.D. in Ukrainian health care law.
She is weighing whether to abandon the land of her birth, of her identity.
“Maybe I should just pack my suitcase and move to Miami,” she laughed, then caught herself. “I am laughing, but it is not really a joke. I want to live in a free country. Still, for me as a lawyer, it is interesting, if a bit strange.”
Correction: April 22, 2014
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the origin of the name of Taurida National University. It  derives from Greek history, not Crimean Tatar history.