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Putin opens Kerch Strait Bridge linking Russia to annexed Crimea


Vladimir Putin is today opening Europe’s longest and most controversial bridge, providing the first road connection between the Russian mainland and annexed peninsula Crimea.

Massive security spearheaded by the FSB security service is in place on and near the so-called Ponte Putin amid fears of attacks from Ukrainian nationalists.

The Kremlin leader has boasted that the 12-mile crossing was a dream of the tsars and Stalin, but has only happened under his rule.

The bridge spans a treacherous strait between the Black and Azov seas, and gives a key link to the Russian mainland. But Ukraine has slammed its construction by the 'the Russian occupation forces'

The bridge spans a treacherous strait between the Black and Azov seas, and gives a key link to the Russian mainland. But Ukraine has slammed its construction by the ‘the Russian occupation forces’

Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov warned: 'We are constantly expecting provocations from Ukraine but believe me, we are highly ready to resist any attacks'

Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov warned: ‘We are constantly expecting provocations from Ukraine but believe me, we are highly ready to resist any attacks’

Heavy vehicles were driven across the bridge to test everything was ready for Putin, although approach highways are not yet complete. After the strongman's inspection today, the first regular traffic will cross the Crimea Bridge at 5.30 am tomorrow

Heavy vehicles were driven across the bridge to test everything was ready for Putin, although approach highways are not yet complete. After the strongman’s inspection today, the first regular traffic will cross the Crimea Bridge at 5.30 am tomorrow

This photo taken on March 14, 2018, shows the construction site of the road-and-rail Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait. The Russian President  is set to unveil the bridge linking southern Russia to the Crimean peninsula, annexed from Ukraine, and a highly symbolic project which he has personally championed

This photo taken on March 14, 2018, shows the construction site of the road-and-rail Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait. The Russian President is set to unveil the bridge linking southern Russia to the Crimean peninsula, annexed from Ukraine, and a highly symbolic project which he has personally championed

But the £2.75 billion link – which has its own cat called Mostik – led to a wave of sanctions from the EU and US, including Putin’s crony and former judo sparring partner, oligarch Arkady Rotenberg, whose Stroygazmontazh company was tasked with building it.

After the strongman’s inspection today, the first regular traffic will cross the Crimea Bridge at 5.30 am tomorrow.

Ukraine has slammed the construction by the ‘the Russian occupation forces’.

A distant view of Kerch Strait Bridge. The Russian leader claimed it is 'a unique structure not just for our country but I think that in the whole world there are few similar'

A distant view of Kerch Strait Bridge. The Russian leader claimed it is ‘a unique structure not just for our country but I think that in the whole world there are few similar’

The bridge under construction. The bridge will cope with 40,000 cars a day, travelling on four lanes between the mainland and Crimea, which is a popular Russian holiday destination

The bridge under construction. The bridge will cope with 40,000 cars a day, travelling on four lanes between the mainland and Crimea, which is a popular Russian holiday destination

Above: The structure is surrounded by mist. A massive security spearheaded by the FSB security service is in place on and near the so-called Ponte Putin amid fears of attacks from Ukrainian nationalists during the official opening

Above: The structure is surrounded by mist. A massive security spearheaded by the FSB security service is in place on and near the so-called Ponte Putin amid fears of attacks from Ukrainian nationalists during the official opening

 A range of vehicles were test-driven across the structure, to ensure it complied with specifications. Ships will be able to pass through a 115 ft arch high in the deepest part of the strait

 A range of vehicles were test-driven across the structure, to ensure it complied with specifications. Ships will be able to pass through a 115 ft arch high in the deepest part of the strait

Putin’s military machine annexed Crimea in 2014 after the toppling of pro-Moscow Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev.

The bridge spans a treacherous strait between the Black and Azov seas, and gives a key link to the Russian mainland. A rail crossing is due to be completed late next year.

Putin has already boasted of the ‘mighty’ bridge: ‘This is a project that they tried to achieve back under the tsar…

‘Then in the 1930s they tried to do it – they also couldn’t. And they tried later – nothing worked out. But we managed it. That’s great.’

He claimed it is ‘a unique structure not just for our country but I think that in the whole world there are few similar’.

Heavy vehicles were driven across the bridge to test everything was ready for Putin, although approach highways are not yet complete.

The new bridge will end the reliance on sea transport for food and other vital supplies to Crimea because Ukraine blocked land routes. In length, it exceeds the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal

The new bridge will end the reliance on sea transport for food and other vital supplies to Crimea because Ukraine blocked land routes. In length, it exceeds the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal

A view of the Kerch Strait Bridge, measuring 19 km (11.8 miles) in length and linking Crimea's Kerch Peninsula to mainland Russia. It was completed six months ahead of schedule in difficult conditions

A view of the Kerch Strait Bridge, measuring 19 km (11.8 miles) in length and linking Crimea’s Kerch Peninsula to mainland Russia. It was completed six months ahead of schedule in difficult conditions

A blog from cat Mostik – who has become famous after living with the construction team – said: ‘I will open the bridge along with the builders and the president. And from 16 May you can drive yourself.’

However, there is Russian concern over security.

Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov warned: ‘We are constantly expecting provocations from Ukraine but believe me, we are highly ready to resist any attacks.’

He vowed: ‘The professional readiness of the FSB, police, and Russian National Guards is high.

‘Nothing can be excluded with this kind of power in Kiev.

Test drive: A man drives over the new Kerch Strait Bridge, ahead of its official opening by Vladimir Putin. Heavy vehicles were driven across the bridge to test everything was ready for Putin, although approach highways are not yet complete. The Kremlin leader has boasted that the 12-mile crossing was a dream of the tsars and Stalin, but has only happened under his rule

Test drive: A man drives over the new Kerch Strait Bridge, ahead of its official opening by Vladimir Putin. Heavy vehicles were driven across the bridge to test everything was ready for Putin, although approach highways are not yet complete. The Kremlin leader has boasted that the 12-mile crossing was a dream of the tsars and Stalin, but has only happened under his rule

‘They are fully dependent on Americans, they do not think about consequences for Ukraine.

‘At first they said that there won’t be any Crimean bridge, now they are talking some nonsense that they will block the movement on the bridge.’

Ukrainian businessman Lenur Islyamov called for all cars using the bridge to be logged and for sanctions to be imposed on each driver.

‘I do not know how to do it but I am convinced that if Ukraine cannot stop the movement on the bridge, at least all transport should be registered that goes from Russia to occupied Crimea.

‘Everyone must be located, name-by-name.

‘They are no different from any others who are illegally cross the border between countries.’

The bridge will cope with 40,000 cars a day, travelling on four lanes between the mainland and Crimea, which is a popular Russian holiday destination.

The bridge's resident moggie Mostik, who has become famous after living with the construction team, said he will open the bridge along with the builders and Vladimir Putin

The bridge’s resident moggie Mostik, who has become famous after living with the construction team, said he will open the bridge along with the builders and Vladimir Putin

Mostik monitoring the construction work. The bridge will cope with 40,000 cars a a day on four lanes between the mainland and Crimea which is a popular Russian holiday destination

Mostik monitoring the construction work. The bridge will cope with 40,000 cars a a day on four lanes between the mainland and Crimea which is a popular Russian holiday destination

On the prowl: the famous Mostik checks out his turf ahead of the official opening of the £2.75 billion link. A rail crossing is due to be completed late next year

On the prowl: the famous Mostik checks out his turf ahead of the official opening of the £2.75 billion link. A rail crossing is due to be completed late next year

Top speed is 90 kph or 56 mph.

Ships will be able to pass through a 115 ft arch high in the deepest part of the strait.

The bridge will end the reliance on sea transport for food and other vital supplies to Crimea because Ukraine blocked land routes.

‘The Crimean Bridge team consists of over 10,000 workers and engineers,’ said Rotenberg.

It was completed six months ahead of schedule ‘in difficult natural conditions,’ he added.

In length, it exceeds the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal, which is over 10 miles (17km) long.



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