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Russia Opens Crimea Bridge for Rail Traffic

Aid western condemnation, Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in the ceremony to officially open the controversial bridge which links mainland Russia with the Russian occupied Crimean peninsula for rail traffic.

Several nations under the European Union, and other nations like Kyiv, the USA have condemned construction of the bridge by Russia calling it “a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty”, with the Western powers even imposing sanctions on firms that are associated with the building of this 19-kilometer-long structure. The total cost of the structure $3.7 billion and is the longest bridge in Europe surpassing the Vasco Da Gama Bridge in Portugal.

In November, the private company named as Grand Service Express Railway Company announces that the first train to cross this bridge would depart from St. Petersburg on 23rd December and reach Sevastopol in 43.5 hours after covering around 2,741 kilo meters of distance. The segment from Moscow to Simferopol, the capital city of Crimea, is scheduled to depart on December 24 and travel 2,009 kilometers in 33 hours.

Last year in May 15, the bridge was inaugurated by Putin for vehicle use. The state television went live showing Putin behind the wheels of Kamaz truck along with a convoy of vehicles crossed the bridge which according to Russia symbolizes “Moscow’s control over Ukrainian Peninsula.” Crimea is connected to the mainland in Ukraine only, so the bridge is the sole link between the peninsula and Russia.

In the opinion of EU spokesperson Josep Borell criticized the opening of this transport link. “In accordance with international law the European Union expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage through the Kerch Strait, ” Peter Stano said adding that this would be another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia, according to dpa. The U.S. State Department also condemns Russia’s construction of the bridge, saying that it was done “without the permission of the government of Ukraine.”

Several sanctions were placed by the EU and the USA targeting those involved in the construction including Arkady Rotenberg who is a close ally of Putin and his company has also won the construction rights for the bridge. Russia supported separatist fighters battling Kyiv’s forces in eastern Ukraine in a war that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014. In the same year, Russia annexed Crimea which is yet to be noticed by the world community.

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