Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Russia's Grand Project to Build 'Putin's Bridge' to Crimea, in Photos

Russia's Grand Project to Build 'Putin's Bridge' to Crimea, in Photos

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally drove a Kamaz trip-truck, heading a column of construction vehicles, across the newly-opened bridge connecting mainland Russia with Crimean Peninsula.

The bridge's opening ceremony drew further criticism.

Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its strong protest against the launch of the bridge across the Kerch Strait by Russian Federation in occupied Crimea and once again stressed that the construction of this facility without the consent of Ukraine is unlawful.

Putin, at the wheel of a heavy KAMAZ truck, drove the full 19 km (12 miles) across the bridge from the Kerch Strait, which some Russians call "Putin's bridge" and which is created to link Crimea into Russia's transport network.

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.

In celebration, Russian authorities organized pop concerts at both ends of the bridge, events that recalled the massive pro-Kremlin celebrations held in Simferopol and Moscow in 2014 after the invasion and start of the Russian occupation of Crimea. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony.

European Union member states chose to impose travel bans and asset freezes on five individuals, who held positions in electoral commissions in Crimea, which the European Union considers "actively supporting and implementing policies that undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine".

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

In July 2017, the bridge's arch for road traffic was installed.

Putin inspected the bridge in March ahead of the presidential election he won by a landslide, saying it was important to have the link to the peninsula open for the summer tourist season.

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