Vladimir Putin opens controversial Russia-Crimea bridge

Vladimir Putin

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

"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 spokeswoman said.

There was one hitch: Putin was actually beaten across the bridge. During World War II the occupying Nazis also began building a bridge but abandoned the project.

At 19 kilometers, the bridge over the Kerch Strait is Europe's longest, as well as being a contentious symbol of Russian intervention in Ukraine. "Tomorrow I am ceremonially opening the bridge with the builders and the president".

Those sanctions, in effect, targeted a member of Putin's inner circle: The primary contract for the bridge's construction was awarded to a unit of Stroygazmontazh, a firm controlled by Arkady Rotenberg, a childhood friend of Putin and his former judo sparring partner.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is fond of activities that accentuate his manliness, like bare-chested horseback riding, not-bare-chested polar exploration, and promoting the Russian limousine and wicked-looking armored auto industries. Both men are under US sanctions.

The bridge is a permanent fixture looming over tensions with Ukraine. "Russia's construction of the bridge serves as a reminder of Russia's ongoing willingness to flout worldwide law", Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Heather Nauert said at a briefing in Washington, D.C., on May 15.

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The US State Department earlier said the bridge impedes ship navigation and goods delivery in the area and therefore the United States is watching the situation regarding it closely. Putin touted it as an historic achievement and a dream that eluded Russian czars and leaders throughout the 2oth century.

"But Crimea is Russian Federation".

Construction workers also have given Mostik a small hard hat. "That's great", he told hard-hatted workers.

Mostik's public relations campaign, however, has not spun many in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Ukraine would consistently defend its positions in global courts despite Russia's attempts to legalize the temporary occupation of the peninsula. "And the bridge will definitely need invaders when they will urgently leave our Crimea" - summed Poroshenko. "He has designed other bridges and says this one could be vulnerable to earthquakes and mud volcanoes on the sea floor".

As The Washington Post's Anton Troianovski wrote, it also underscores the enrichment of Putin allies at the cost of decaying bridges, roads and railroads throughout Russian Federation that have not been recipients of his personal patronage. The World Bank ranks the quality of Russia's trade and transport infrastructure as 94th-best in the world, just behind Tunisia and ahead of Colombia. The bridge capacity is 40,000 cars and 47 pairs of trains per day, 14 million passengers and 13 million tons of cargo per year.

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