U.S. condemns Russia's construction of Crimean bridge

U.S. condemns Russia's construction of Crimean bridge

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

Putin called the bridge, which opened for public traffic Wednesday, a "unique structure".

"The Russian occupying powers, which have temporarily occupied Crimea, are continuing to act outside worldwide law", Volodymyr told the French news agency.

"We shall not ask for anybody's permission to build transport infrastructure for the sake of Russia's population", the Russian embassy said on Twitter.

The Crimean bridge, connecting the peninsula with the mainland Russian Federation, was partially unveiled on May 15. "The bridge is one of the examples of the peaceful construction of Russia", Dzhabarov said.

Meanwhile, the bridge's feline mascot - Mostik the cat - helped take the edge of the politically fraught project by beating Putin across the bridge a day earlier, Newsweek reported.

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Crimea is popular among Russians as a summer holiday destination and Putin said in March he would like the bridge to be ready for the season. One reporter hailed the bridge as an example of "heroism of the workers". The Treasury Department says Arkady Rotenberg and his brother Boris have been some of the primary beneficiaries of their closeness to Putin, receiving around $7 billion in contracts for the Sochi Winter Olympics, another prestige project for the Russian President.

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a cat while inspecting reconstruction of houses for people who suffered from wildfires in the village of Krasnopolye at the Siberian Khakasiya region, Russia, September 4, 2015.

But for the Russian government, the annexation of Crimea and the opening of the bridge are a point of patriotic pride. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko slammed Putin's action calling it, "The illegal construction of the Kerch bridge is the latest evidence of the Kremlin's disregard for global law". "Well - probably they did create certain difficulties, but we've overcome them and these difficulties made us unite".

The focus on Putin's role, however, also hinted at a less flattering reality: the untold number of poor roads, railroads and bridges across the country that don't benefit from the president's personal patronage. Similarly, the attendance of French officials at the inauguration ceremony is a personal initiative that we regret; it is contrary to worldwide law and the French authorities are not responsible for it.

"No matter how many wrinkles Vladimir Putin has on his forehead and no matter how many hands he has, this model of manual leadership only works on so many projects", Oreshkin said.

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