Putin drives truck over new controversial bridge linking Russian Federation to Crimea peninsula

Charlene Craig
May 15, 2018

Ukraine said the move showed cynical disregard for global law.

Vladimir Putin visited the Consolidated Traffic Management Centre and heard reports on the readiness of utility teams to operate the transport route across the Kerch Strait.

Earlier on Tuesday Putin drove a Kamaz truck at the head of a convoy of construction vehicles along the newly-built bridge after having a quick word with a group of construction workers.

"At last, thanks to your talent, this project, this miracle, has happened", Putin told the workers. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko called the elections in occupied Crimea is a gross violation of worldwide law and called for increased sanctions pressure on the Kremlin.

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The construction of the bridge began in May 2015.

"It is particularly cynical that its opening is happening on the eve of the latest anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean-Tatar people by the Stalin regime".

The bridge over the Kerch Strait will be of use for the Russian occupants when they have to leave the Ukrainian peninsula.

Russian Federation annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, drawing sanctions and prompting a deterioration in ties with the West.

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Ukraine, which along with most of the worldwide community has not recognised Russia's annexation of Crimea, condemned the project, which was personally championed by Putin.

The European Commission said in a statement that the building of the bridge was an "another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russian Federation", adding that the new bridge will also hinder the access of Ukrainian shipping to Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov.

"The European Union continues to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russian Federation and will not recognize this violation of worldwide law", the spokesperson said. Many in Russia saw the move as restoring Moscow's rule over a historically Russian region.

The project cost 228 billion rubles ($3.69 billion, €3.1 billion) and will become the longest bridge in Europe, taking over the Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal. A railway bridge is due to be completed by the end of 2019.

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The construction is one of Putin's legacy projects, after the massive renovation of the Black Sea city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2012 opening of the world's longest cable-stayed bridge in the far eastern city of Vladivostok. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony.

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