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Putin Drives Truck In Crimean Bridge Opening Ceremony

Putin Drives Truck In Crimean Bridge Opening Ceremony

Russian President Vladimir Putin is fond of activities that accentuate his manliness, like bare-chested horseback riding, not-bare-chested polar exploration, and promoting the Russian limousine and wicked-looking armored auto industries.

Russian President Vladmir Putin on May 15 officially unveiled a 19-kilometer-long road bridge linking the annexed Crimean Peninsula with Russian territories across the Kerch Strait.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took the seat at the wheel in the cabin of a Kamaz truck to lead a convoy of 35 vehicles (dump trucks, cranes, cement trucks, tanker trucks and other equipment) along the nineteen-kilometer bridge towards Crimea's seaside city of Kerch.

Construction on the bridge to link Crimea with Russia's Krasnodar region began in February 2016.

Ukraine said the move showed cynical disregard for global law.

"In different historical eras, even under the tsar, people were dreaming of building this bridge", Putin told cheering workers.

President Petro Poroshenko lambasted the bridge as "yet another piece of evidence of the Kremlin ignoring worldwide law" and "an attempt to legitimise the temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula".

The construction of the bridge aims at the further forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russian Federation and its isolation from Ukraine of which it remains a part.

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TV host Andrei Kondrashov, who was chairman of Putin's victorious re-election campaign, this year described the bridge as "one more reason for Russians to be proud".

Ukraine has condemned the project, which cost 228 billion rubles ($3.7 billion).

The bridge is set to be opened to cars on Wednesday.

"Putin initiated this project himself. Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony.

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

The road bridge is opening ahead of schedule as it was due to be completed in December.

But for others the structure has become a bridge too far.

Ukraine has also previously complained that the construction has damaged the environment and that larger ships will be unable to get through to its ports on the Azov Sea. Ukraine, the US and other western nations said "Putin's bridge", as its come to be known, is a flagrant violation of global law. "This constitutes another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russian Federation", the spokesperson for the European Union said in a statement on May 15.