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Russia-Crimea bridge to be opened by Vladimir Putin

Russia-Crimea bridge to be opened by Vladimir Putin

U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert in a statement on Tuesday said the "bridge serves as a reminder of Russia's ongoing willingness to flout global law" and said it was an attempt by Russian Federation "to solidify its unlawful seizure and its occupation of Crimea" and impede navigation of the Kerch Strait.

The controversial Crimean Bridge has been finished six months early and will link Russia's southern Krasnodar region with the Crimean city of Kerch. "This constitutes another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russian Federation", the European Union said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to unveil Tuesday a highly symbolic bridge linking southern Russia to the Crimea, four years after the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine.

At a ceremony broadcast live on state TV, Putin, dressed in blue jeans, was met by cheering workers on the Crimean side after driving the orange-coloured truck across the bridge in a small convoy of vehicles.

"This constitutes another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russian Federation", said a statement by a spokesperson for the office of the European Union's foreign policy service.

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Poroshenko stated that construction and the opening of the bridge is "another case of Russian Federation ignoring the worldwide law". The massive bridge will help reduce Crimea's reliance on sea transport.

European Union and USA sanctions have targeted those involved in building the bridge, principally Putin's close ally, businessman Arkady Rotenberg, whose company Stroygazmontazh won the construction contract.

After Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the peninsula found itself between a rock and a hard place.

Originally, the bridge was expected to be built before 2018 and put into operation in the summer of 2019. Up to 40,000 cars a day may cross the bridge travelling at a speed of up to 120 km per hour.

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