Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin presented on Tuesday the auto part of a new railway bridge connecting Russia with the annexed Crimean peninsula and defying Ukraine, which described the move as a cynically disregarded international law ,
Putin drove at the wheel of a heavy KAMAZ lorry 19 km across the bridge from Kerch street which is called by some Russians "Putin's bridge" and which is to connect the Crimea with Russia transport network.
At a ceremony broadcast live on state television, Putin, dressed in blue jeans, was greeted by employees on the Crimean side after driving the orange truck across the bridge in a small vehicle convoy.
"Finally, thanks to your talent, this miracle has happened," Putin told the workers.
In Kiev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said: "The illegal construction of the Kerch bridge is the last evidence of disregard for international law by the Kremlin.
" It is particularly cynical that the opening on the eve of the recent anniversary The deportation of the Crimean Tatar population by the Stalin regime is taking place. "
Russia annexed Crimea from neighboring Ukraine in 2014, tightened sanctions and resulted in a sharp deterioration in relations with the West, but many in Russia saw the move as a restoration of Moscow's rule over a historically Russian region.
The bridge was built at a cost of 223 billion rubles ($ 3.60 billion) and is expected to be the longest double-track span in Europe.
The Kremlin said The bridge will be opened to cars on Wednesday, and the track section should be completed by the end of 2019.  "Putin initiated this project himself. Many did not believe that these plans were possible, "Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a teleconference on Tuesday before the ceremony.
" This is an extremely important day from this point of view and in a practical sense and in symbolic terms.
Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, edited by Richard Balmforth