Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Putin Officially Opens Massive Bridge Linking Crimea To Russia

Putin Officially Opens Massive Bridge Linking Crimea To Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to unveil Tuesday a highly symbolic bridge linking southern Russia to the Crimea, four years after the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine.

The president crossed the bridge driving the Kamaz truck.

Russian state television showed Putin behind the wheel of a construction truck with workers on the almost 20-kilometer drive across the bridge, which aims to integrate Crimea with Russia's transportation network.

Such a bridge was first proposed under the last Czar Nicholas II before World War I broke out, preventing it going ahead.

From the Tsarist era, then in the 1930s and then in the 1950s, an attempt was made to erect a similar work and only you made it possible now, said the Russian statesman to the mass of construction workers who attended the inauguration.

Putin is known to drive automobiles himself from time to time during working trips about the country.

The bridge surpasses the Vasco de Gama bridge in Portugal as the longest in Europe.

Ukraine has condemned the project, which cost 228 billion rubles ($3.7 billion).

Ukraine, which along with most of the worldwide community has not recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea, condemned the project.

"The Russian occupying powers, which have temporarily occupied Crimea, are continuing to act outside global law", Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told AFP in an interview.

Ukraine has also previously complained that the construction has damaged the environment and that larger ships will be unable to get through to its ports on the Azov Sea.

The opening ceremony drew criticism from the West.

Earlier it was reported about the intention of the European Union to impose new restrictions because of "undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine".

"We continue to work with partners to oppose the annexation, including by maintaining a robust package of sanctions".

The bridge makes us stronger and closer to one another, in addition to helping to accelerate the levels of economic development of Crimea, stressed the Russian president, who personally inspected the work in several of its construction stages. The U.S. has sanctioned Russian companies and individuals involved in building the bridge.

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

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