Published: Wed, May 16, 2018

Kerch Bridge is another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty

Kerch Bridge is another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty

Russian President Vladimir Putin, driving a truck, unveiled the auto section of a new road and rail bridge linking Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula on Tuesday, defying Ukraine.

Putin, at the wheel of an orange heavy KAMAZ dump truck drove 12 miles across the bridge from the Kerch Strait.

The Crimean Bridge will open to traffic in both directions on Wednesday, May 16.

Crimea is popular among Russians as a summer holiday destination and Putin said in March he would like the bridge to be ready for the season.

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

The controversial Crimean Bridge links the southern Krasnodar region with the Crimean city of Kerch and spans across a stretch of water between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.

"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.

"Russia's construction of the bridge serves as a reminder of Russia's ongoing willingness to flout worldwide law", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

He stressed that despite the futile attempts of Moscow to legitimize temporary occupation of Crimea, a coherent solution to a number of worldwide jurisdictions confirm - "the burden of the flawless global crime for Russian Federation will only grow".

The annexation of the peninsula in 2014 was condemned by Kiev and the West as an illegal land grab. Sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States have targeted those involved in the bridge, including businessman Arkady Rotenberg, a close Putin ally whose company won the construction contract.

The construction of the bridge began in May 2015. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony. The bridge was finished months ahead of the deadline, which had been set for the end of the year.

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