by Alexander NEMENOV / Agence France-Presse

President Vladimir Putin drew condemnation from the US, Europe and Ukraine on Tuesday after he opened a new bridge linking mainland Russia and Moscow-annexed Crimea by driving a truck throughout it to the peninsula.

Putin wearing denims and an informal jacket was proven by Russian state tv behind the wheel of a building truck to drive 19 kilometres (12 miles) throughout the bridge, which hyperlinks the Taman peninsula in southern Russia to Ukraine’s Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

“I want to sincerely congratulate you with this remarkable, festive and, in the full sense of the word, historic day,” Putin informed staff upon arrival on the Crimean aspect of the bridge.

“In different historical eras, even under the tsar, people were dreaming of building this bridge,” Putin informed cheering staff.

He was referring to Russia’s final tsar, Nicholas II, who first proposed such a bridge, however the outbreak of World War I prevented it going forward.

Another unsuccessful try was made within the 1930s underneath Joseph Stalin. During World War II the occupying Nazis additionally started constructing a bridge however deserted the mission.

Putin, who was re-elected for a fourth Kremlin time period in March extending his lengthy rule, pledged to construct extra of “such projects” throughout Russia.

The Crimean Bridge overtakes Lisbon’s Vasco da Gama Bridge because the longest in Europe.

Built at a price of 228 billion rubles ($three.7 billion), the new construction connects the southern Krasnodar area with the Crimean metropolis of Kerch, spanning a strait between the Black and Azov seas.

– Ukraine, Western condemnation –
Ukraine, which together with a lot of the worldwide neighborhood has not recognised Russia’s annexation of Crimea, condemned the mission.

“The Russian occupying powers, which have temporarily occupied Crimea, are continuing to act outside international law,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman informed AFP in an interview.

Ukraine has additionally beforehand complained that the development has broken the atmosphere and that bigger ships will probably be unable to get by way of to its ports on the Azov Sea.

The United States mentioned the bridge opening was an try to solidify Moscow’s “unlawful seizure” of the Ukrainian territory.

“Russia’s construction of the bridge serves as a reminder of Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert mentioned.

The European Union additionally criticised what it referred to as a recent assault on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“This constitutes another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia,” mentioned a press release by a spokesperson for the workplace of the European Union’s overseas coverage service.

British Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan mentioned it was “a further example of Russia’s reckless behaviour”.

“We continue to work with partners to oppose the annexation, including by maintaining a robust package of sanctions.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s safety service raided the places of work of Russian state media in Kiev and detained one native journalist on suspicions of treason, strikes the chief editor of Russia’s RT tv advised had been linked to the bridge opening.

The chief editor of the Kremlin-funded channel, Margarita Simonyan, wrote on Twitter that “Kiev decided to take revenge on us for the Crimean Bridge,” after the raids on the places of work of RIA Novosti state information company, which is a part of the identical media group as RT.

– Bridge sanctions –
European Union and US sanctions have focused these concerned in constructing the bridge, principally Putin’s shut ally, businessman Arkady Rotenberg, whose firm Stroygazmontazh gained the development contract.

The annexation of the peninsula in 2014 was condemned by Kiev and the West as an unlawful land seize however applauded in Russia.

The peninsula has been arduous to attain from southern Russia with lengthy queues of autos typically forming to board ferries, which can not all the time run in winter storms, so the simplest method throughout is to fly.

Because of blocks imposed by Kiev, as well as to Western sanctions, a considerable amount of meals is presently shipped to the peninsula from Russia, so the bridge will play an essential function in decreasing the area’s reliance on sea transport.

The four-lane highway bridge is opening forward of schedule because it was due to be accomplished in December. Once it opens for site visitors on Wednesday, will probably be in a position to carry up to 40,000 vehicles per day.

A railway bridge just isn’t but completed and has a deadline of the top of 2019. A connecting freeway from Kerch to the regional capital of Simferopol is about for completion in 2020. (AFP)