Friday, 16 November, 2018

Putin to open mega bridge linking Crimea to Russian Federation

EPA  OLIVIER HOSLET EPA OLIVIER HOSLET
Leonard Rios | 15 May, 2018, 22:45

The annexation of the peninsula in 2014 was condemned by Kiev and the West as an illegal land grab but applauded in Russian Federation.

Another unsuccessful attempt was made in the 1930s under Joseph Stalin.

Russian President, driving a truck, unveiled the auto section of a new road-and-rail bridge linking Russia to the annexed on Tuesday, defying Ukraine which said the move showed cynical disregard for worldwide law.

"France condemns the construction by Russian Federation of the Kerch Bridge, which deprives Ukraine of full access and the use of its internationally recognized territorial waters", a French foreign ministry spokesperson said.

The Russian leader, who was re-elected for a fourth Kremlin term in March extending his long rule, then pledged to build more of "such projects" across Russia.

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

Putin also briefly thanked all who participated in the construction, which was conducted predominantly by a company belonging to Arkady Rotenberg, an old friend of Putin who has benefited from lucrative contracts handed out by the Kremlin, and who is now on the European Union sanctions list.

The bridge will make the peninsula easier to reach from southern Russian Federation. Some Russians are calling it "Putin's bridge", created to link Crimea into Russia's transport network. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony. Once it opens for traffic on Wednesday, it will be able to carry up to 40,000 cars per day.

Over 10,000 people worked to complete the Crimean Bridge six months ahead of schedule. The rail section was due to be completed at the end of 2019. It is also created to withstand ice floes in winter.

Putin, whose popularity rose drastically after Russian Federation invaded and occupied Crimea in the spring of 2014, personally oversaw the project, which started in 2015.

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