Bridge over Kerch Strait is for Russians to abandon Crimea, says Poroshenko

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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.

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 truck in a convoy of vehicles.

Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II first proposed such a bridge, but the outbreak of World War I prevented it going ahead.

From the Tsarist era, then in the 1930s and then in the 1950s, an attempt was made to erect a similar work and only you made it possible now, said the Russian statesman to the mass of construction workers who attended the inauguration.

The construction of the bridge began in May 2015.

"Putin initiated this project himself".

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.

The construction of the bridge over the Kerch Strait between the Black and Azov seas started in 2015 following the incorporation of the former Ukrainian republic in 2014 and consequent deterioration of relations between Moscow and Kiev.

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"The European Union continues to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russian Federation and will not recognise this violation of global law", the spokesperson added.

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".

British Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan said it was "a further example of Russia's reckless behaviour". But many in Russia saw the move as restoring Moscow's rule over a historically Russian region.

On Tuesday, May 15, at about 2:00 p.m., the grand opening of the Crimean bridge will take place.

European Union and U.S. sanctions have targeted those involved in the realization of the bridge, particularly businessman Arkady Rotenberg, a close ally of Putin 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.

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

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

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