Russian President Vladimir Putin, driving a truck, unveiled the auto section of a new road-and-rail bridge linking Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula on Tuesday, defying Ukraine which said the move showed cynical disregard for global law.
The construction of the Crimean Bridge, connecting the Crimea and Russia's Kuban region, began two years ago.
Putin drove the Russian-made KAMAZ dump truck in a convoy of vehicles across the 19-kilometre bridge over the Kerch Strait.
Sergei Tsekov, Senator from the Republic of Crimea, a member of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, told Pravda.Ru that the bridge has established direct connection with Russia.
"The Russian occupying powers, which have temporarily occupied Crimea, are continuing to act outside global law", Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told AFP in an interview.
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Meanwhile, Ukraine's security service raided the offices of Russian state media in Kiev and detained one local journalist on suspicions of treason, moves the chief editor of Russia's RT television suggested were linked to the bridge opening.
Built at a cost of 223 billion roubles ($3.60 billion), the bridge is set to be the longest dual-purpose span in Europe. Some Russians are calling it "Putin's bridge", created to link Crimea into Russia's transport network.
"Putin initiated this project himself".
"Putin once more demonstrated that when he carries them out, even the most ambitious plans can be achieved", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday. Once it opens for traffic on Wednesday, it will be able to carry up to 40,000 cars per day.
Indeed, the construction of the bridge to the Crimea removes the transport blockade of the Crimea, which will be broken completely when the railway section of the bridge is launched in 2019. The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule.