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Vladimir Putin To Open $4 Billion Bridge to Crimea Built By His Judo Sparring Partner

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© Provided by IBT Media (UK) 05_14_Putin_Crimea

By Newsweek Europe, Newsweek

A multibillion-dollar bridge between Russia and Crimea, territory annexed by Russia in 2014, will be opened by Vladimir Putin Tuesday.

The 12-mile road and rail bridge is the only land link between Russia with the Black Sea peninsula, seized by Russian forces from Ukraine in 2014.

Putin saw a surge in popularity following the action on Crimea and commissioned his judo sparring partner, construction mogul Arkady Rotenberg, to build the bridge.

On Monday evening Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Kommersant newspaper that it would be "hard to imagine that such a colossal construction project would open without the president.”

A statement from the Kremlin describing the planned ceremony said: “A procession of construction vehicles will drive down the motorway." It added: “The event will be attended by the representatives of road construction crews from various regions of the country.”

Putin will lead the ceremonial unveiling of the bridge’s car lanes, alongside industry officials on Tuesday.

Public access to the the construction that reportedly cost Russia around $4 billion will be fully open to drivers and pedestrians from the early hours of Wednesday morning.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects the road section of the road-and-rail Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait on March 14. The road section is set to officially open to the public on Wednesday. Yuri Kochetkov/AFP/Getty Images

Road authorities have already opened the overpasses leading up to the bridge for drivers and a motorway with a speed limit of around 55 miles per hour will link the Russian and Crimean coastlines.

Besides cars and pedestrians, the bridge is designed to also accommodate cargo trucks and run a railway line, though both are expected to open later this year or next year.

The bridge’s construction is hugely controversial, not only because most United Nations countries still recognize Crimea as Ukrainian territory—despite it being under Russian control—but also because it obstructs the waterways that link three other Ukrainian regions to the Black Sea.

The bridge’s obstruction across the Kerch Strait—the waterway that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov—means that sea traffic from Ukraine’s Donetsk, eastern Kherson or Zaporozhye cannot sail to the Black Sea and beyond, without being granted access by Russia.

Ukraine’s government has vowed to take Russia to court over the bridge which one Ukrainian member of parliament described as a “blockade.”

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World - U.S. Daily News: Vladimir Putin To Open $4 Billion Bridge to Crimea Built By His Judo Sparring Partner
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