Putin has truck driver's license, his spokesman says

Russian

Ukraine, which along with most of the worldwide community has not recognised Russia's annexation of Crimea, condemned the project, which was personally championed by Putin.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has welcomed the decision by the Council of the European Union to impose sanctions against five persons responsible for illegally holding a Russian presidential election in the occupied Crimea and Sevastopol. Ukraine has said the construction of the bridge shows blatant disregard for global law.

After Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the peninsula found itself between a rock and a hard place.

Because of blocks imposed by Kiev, in addition to Western sanctions, a large amount of food is now shipped to the peninsula from Russian Federation, so the bridge will play an important role in reducing the region's reliance on sea transport.

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.

Built at a cost of 223 billion roubles ($3.6 billion US), it will be the longest dual-purpose span bridge in Europe. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony.

"Such actions by Moscow fundamentally contradict the generally recognized norms and principles of worldwide law, grossly violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 and bilateral treaty obligations to Ukraine", the ministry said in a statement on May 15 when Russian Federation officially opened the bridge.

"Today, both in a practical sense and from a symbolic point of view, is an extremely important day", he added.

Putin is known to drive automobiles himself from time to time during working trips about the country.

The road stretch of the bridge was due to be completed by the end of 2018, but the opening was moved up at Putin's request. The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule.

Putin, who personally drove a Russian Kamaz truck across the bridge from Russia's Taman peninsula to Ukraine's Crimea at the head of a column of 35 cars, announced that cargo transport would start moving across the bridge from autumn and that the parallel railway bridge would open in a year.

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