Putin to open mega bridge linking Crimea to Russian Federation

EPA  OLIVIER HOSLET

"The Russian occupying powers, which have temporarily occupied Crimea, are continuing to act outside worldwide law", Volodymyr told the French news agency.

The 19-km bridge is the largest in Russian Federation built so far.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman condemned the project, saying it has damaged the environment and that larger ships will not be able to pass through its ports on the Azov Sea.

European Union and USA sanctions have targeted those involved in the realization of the bridge, particularly businessman Arkady Rotenberg, a close ally of Putin whose company Stroygazmontazh won the construction contract.

Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II first proposed such a bridge, but the outbreak of World War I prevented it going ahead.

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The EU has imposed a range of sanctions over Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, carried out in retaliation for Ukraine ousting its pro-Russian president in what Russia has condemned as a Western-backed coup.

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

The automobile traffic over the bridge will be opened prematurely at 5:30 am, on May 16 (Moscow time). The Crimean Bridge is planned to be opened for trucks from October 1 of this year, head of the Russian road transport agency Rosavtodor Roman Starovoit told reporters on Tuesday.

At the other end of the 19-kilometer bridge, in Crimea, Putin attended a brief open air show.

Nevertheless, a Levada poll in March found 70 percent of Russians thought taking Crimea had been beneficial.

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