Moscow : Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a large construction truck yesterday to road test the much-anticipated bridge linking southern Russia and the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The 19-kilometer (11.8-mile) bridge, which took two years to build and cost $3.6 billion is Putin’s project to show that Crimea has joined Russia for good. Transportation links to Crimea deteriorated after both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries set up checkpoints into the peninsula and trains crossing the Ukrainian mainland were cancelled. Putin travelled to southern Russia to inspect the construction site and to lead the opening ceremony for the bridge.
After receiving a briefing from the construction firm, owned by his childhood friend Arkady Rotenberg, Putin jumped into an orange Kamaz truck with two engineers to lead several dozen trucks across the span.
“Let’s hit the road!” he said in the cabin before driving off. Putin annexed Crimea in March 2014 following a hastily called local vote. The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Russia for the move.