Putin drives across new bridge linking Moscow-annexed Crimea to Russia

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Putin, at the wheel of a heavy KAMAZ truck, drove the full 19 km (12 miles) across the bridge from the Kerch Strait, which some Russians call "Putin's bridge" and which is created to link Crimea into Russia's transport network.

"I want to sincerely congratulate you with this remarkable, festive and, in the full sense of the word, historical day", Putin told workers upon arrival on the Crimean side of the bridge.

"At last, thanks to your talent, this project, this miracle, has happened", Putin told the workers.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stressed that Ukraine would consistently work to expand national and global sanctions against individuals and legal entities involved in the illegal construction of the Kerch bridge.

Modern critics have questioned the reliability and durability of the Russian bridge, as the bottom of the Kerch strait is covered with up to 80 meters of mud, requiring the construction of deep piles to support the bridge. "Particularly cynical is the fact that its discovery comes on the eve of the anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people by the Stalinist regime", - wrote Poroshenko. It begins on the Taman Peninsula, passes over a five-kilometre dam and Tuzla Island, crosses the Kerch Strait and reaches the Crimean coast.

Russian Federation annexed Crimea from neighboring Ukraine in 2014, drawing sanctions and prompting a sharp deterioration in ties with the West.

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The Russian president attended the symbolic opening ceremony on Tuesday, dressed in jeans and a windbreaker, instead of his usual business suit.

The Council of the European Union chose 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 spokesperson for the European External Action Service said in a statement on Tuesday that the bridge was "another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Built at a cost of 223 billion roubles ($3.6 billion US), it will be the longest dual-purpose span bridge in Europe.

In celebration, Russian authorities organized pop concerts at both ends of the bridge, events that recalled the massive pro-Kremlin celebrations held in Simferopol and Moscow in 2014 after the invasion and start of the Russian occupation of Crimea.

"Putin initiated this project himself".

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