Russian President Vladimir Putin has opened the country’s newly built bridge to the annexed Crimean Peninsula, driving a truck across the span and drawing angry condemnation from Kyiv and the European Union. Putin was shown live on state television at the wheel of a Kamaz truck in a convoy of vehicles that crossed what Russia calls the Crimean Bridge — a symbol of Moscow’s control over the Ukrainian peninsula — on May 15.
The 12-mile (19km), $3.7bn (£2.7bn) bridge is Moscow’s only direct road link to Crimea. Russia expects it will carry millions of cars and rail travellers and millions of tons of cargo each year. Previously, all car traffic passed over the Kerch strait by ferry or by passing through Ukraine.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s south-east. In 2016 the US imposed sanctions on Russian companies that were helping to build the bridge across the Kerch strait. Ukraine has said the construction of the bridge shows blatant disregard for international law.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its strong protest against the launch of the bridge across the Kerch Strait by Russia in occupied Crimea and once again stressed that the construction of this facility without the consent of Ukraine is unlawful. “Such actions by Moscow fundamentally contradict the generally recognised norms and principles of international law, grossly violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 and bilateral treaty obligations to Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement on May 15 when Russia officially opened the bridge. Opening the bridge across the Kerch Strait is in fact an attempt to legitimise the annexation of part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory against the backdrop of Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine and the temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula, the ministry said.
Source Radio Free Europe, Tass, The Guardian, Unian