Putin Drives Truck In Crimean Bridge Opening Ceremony

Putin opens Russian bridge linking it to annexed Crimea as he boasts that he has managed 'what the tsars could not'

Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated a bridge that connects Crimea to Russia, saying, "A miracle has come true", on Tuesday.

The 19-kilometre Crimean Bridge is the longest bridge in Russian Federation and Europe. Some Russians are calling it "Putin's bridge", created to link Crimea into Russia's transport network.

As The Washington Post's Anton Troianovski wrote, it also underscores the enrichment of Putin allies at the cost of decaying bridges, roads and railroads throughout Russian Federation that have not been recipients of his personal patronage.

The Crimean bridge, connecting the peninsula with the mainland Russian Federation, was partially unveiled on May 15. It has been eagerly anticipated by Crimeans as an economic lifeline to their now-isolated and sanctions-hit territory. Mostik, the cat, has played a key role in spinning the bridge as a feel-good Russian enterprise. But the completion of the bridge to Crimea became a major priority for Putin's government.

The bridge was scheduled to open for vehicles today, six months ahead of schedule.

State television broadcast live from a camera mounted inside the truck cab as Putin threw it into gear and made small talk with a construction worker sitting next to him. The passage of ships across the Kerch Strait is likely to be ceased because of the bridge as well, the Ukrainian official said.

The bridge's construction was led by Stroygazmontazh, whose owner, Arkady Rotenberg, has close connections to the Kremlin.

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The president has pledged to continue realizing such major infrastructure projects all across Russian Federation.

It's a plan that potentially could have far-reaching economic impact.

The bridge has two layers carrying cars on top and a railway underneath.

The bridge opening represents a milestone in Putin's efforts to show the world - and his people - that the annexation of Crimea was irreversible.

The United States and most other countries have refused to recognize the annexation of Crimea, and sanctions on Russian Federation don't seem likely to be lifted anytime soon.

The Autonomous Republic of Crimea was illegally seized from Ukraine in the spring of 2014 as a result of planned Moscow a special operation to total destabilization of the country after the revolution of Dignity.

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