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Putin opens bridge linking Russia to Crimea

IANS  |  Moscow 

Russian has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which annexed from in 2014.

The 19-km, $3.7 billion bridge is Moscow's only direct road link to expects it will carry millions of cars and rail travellers and millions of tonnes of cargo each year. Previously, all passed over the by ferry or by passing through Ukraine, reported.

On Tuesday, Putin drove an orange Kamaz truck across the bridge as he opened the road to "In different historical epochs, even under the priests, people dreamed of building this bridge," Putin told workers at the ceremony.

"Then they returned to this (idea) in the 1930s, the 40s, the 50s. And finally, thanks to your work and your talent, the miracle has happened."

The Russian touted the bridge as the "construction of the century". The and Nazi Germany had considered and then scrapped plans to build a bridge over the

Relations between and remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine's southeast.

In 2016, the US imposed sanctions on Russian companies that were helping to build the bridge across the said the construction of the bridge showed "blatant disregard for international law".

The said that "the bridge impeded ship navigation and goods delivery in the area and therefore it was watching the situation closely".

The Russian embassy, however, said that "the US remarks were predictable and was not asking anyone's authorization for building infrastructure projects on its territory.

"As one could predict, is not happy with that. But is Russia," the said in a statement.

"We shall not ask for anybody's permission to build for the sake of the population of Russian regions."

The bridge's construction was led by Stroygazmontazh, whose owner, Arkady Rotenberg, has close connections to the Kremlin. Rotenberg was Putin's judo sparring partner.

He was hit with sanctions by the US for his proximity to Putin and by the EU for being among those accused of undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity.

The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule, according to Russian state news agencies. It can reportedly carry up to 40,000 cars per day, its span is greater than that of the in Portugal, previously the longest in

--IANS

soni/mr

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 14:36 IST
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