Ukraine protests against launch of Kerch bridge in Russian-occupied Crimea

Ukraine protests against launch of Kerch bridge in Russian-occupied Crimea

Opening the bridge across the Kerch Strait is in fact an attempt to legitimize the annexation of part of Ukraine's sovereign territory against the backdrop of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine and the temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula, the ministry said.

The opening ceremony drew criticism from the West. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko called the elections in occupied Crimea is a gross violation of worldwide law and called for increased sanctions pressure on the Kremlin.

The bridge over the Kerch Strait will be of use for the Russian occupants when they have to leave the Ukrainian peninsula. Many in Russia saw the move as restoring Moscow's rule over a historically Russian region.

Putin, at the wheel of an orange heavy KAMAZ dump-truck, drove the full 19 km (12 miles) across the bridge from the Kerch Strait.

The project cost 228 billion rubles ($3.69 billion, €3.1 billion) and will become the longest bridge in Europe, taking over the Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony. He was hit with sanctions by the United States for his proximity to Putin and by the European Union for being among those accused of undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity.

"This is an extremely important day from this point of view and in a practical sense and in symbolic terms".

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Over 10,000 people worked to complete the Crimean Bridge six months ahead of schedule.

Putin, whose popularity rose drastically after Russian Federation invaded and occupied Crimea in the spring of 2014, personally oversaw the project, which started in 2015.

The Kremlin said it would be opened to cars on Wednesday and the rail section was due to be completed at the end of 2019.

"Such actions by Moscow fundamentally contradict the generally recognized norms and principles of global law, grossly violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 and bilateral treaty obligations to Ukraine", the ministry said in a statement on May 15 when Russian Federation officially opened the bridge.

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