Vladimir Putin inaugurates Bridge linking annexed Ukrainian Peninsula and Russian Mainland

16 May, 2018, 11:46 | Author: Carlos George
  • EPA  OLIVIER HOSLET

Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the newly built Kerch Strait bridge that connects the Russian mainland with the annexed Crimea peninsular by driving a truck over the 19km long bridge on May 15.

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

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 bridge is set to be opened to cars on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's security service raided the offices of Russian state media in Kiev and detained one local journalist on suspicions of treason, moves the chief editor of Russia's RT television suggested were linked to the bridge opening.

"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. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony.

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EuroNews reported that Ukraine claims the bridge will also prevent large ships from passing through to the country's ports on the Azov Sea.

"Today, both in a practical sense and from a symbolic point of view, is an extremely important day", he added.

The road stretch of the bridge was due to be completed by the end of 2018, but the opening was brought forward at Putin's request.

The traffic capacity expected to cross the bridge later this year.

The construction of the bridge's railway section continues. It is also created to withstand ice floes in winter.

Putin annexed Crimea in March 2014 following a hastily called local vote.

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