Putin opens bridge between Crimea and Russian mainland

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"It is particularly cynical that its opening is happening on the eve of the latest anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean-Tatar people by the Stalin regime".

The annexation of the peninsula in 2014 was condemned by Kiev and the West as an illegal land grab but applauded in Russian Federation.

"Let me remind you, on my behalf to the Arbitration Tribunal of the UN Convention on the law of the sea was filed on protecting the sovereign interests of Ukraine, in particular, in connection with the illegal construction of the bridge Kerch", - said Poroshenko.

Vladimir Putin has opened a bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea, tightening Russia's hold over the contested peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin is licensed to drive heavy trucks, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS, when asked if the president had the right to take a seat at the wheel of a Kamaz truck for a ride along the Crimean Bridge at the dedication ceremony on Tuesday.

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.

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The Council of the European Union made a decision to impose sanctions against five individuals for election of the President of Russian Federation to the annexed Crimea, said President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.

The construction is one of Putin's legacy projects, after the massive renovation of the Black Sea city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2012 opening of the world's longest cable-stayed bridge in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

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

The road stretch of the bridge was due to be completed by the end of 2018, but the opening was brought forward at Putin's request. It was originally expected to open in December but was finished ahead of schedule. Vehicle traffic on the bridge will start on may 16 at 5.30 am.