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17 May 2018, 12:43 | Bernice Figueroa
Putin opens Russian bridge linking it to annexed Crimea as he boasts that he has managed 'what the tsars could not'
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to unveil Tuesday a highly symbolic bridge linking southern Russia to the Crimea, four years after the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine.
Clad in jeans, a casual jacket and black dress shoes, the Russian strongman was seen on state TV on Tuesday behind the wheel of the truck as he drove it across the $3.6 billion bridge that links the Taman peninsula to Ukraine's Crimea.
Both Rotenberg and Chemezov are under US sanctions.
Like many key moments of Putin's presidency, it was a made-for-TV event created to showcase his resolve and authority.
"I want to sincerely congratulate you with this remarkable, festive and, in the full sense of the word, historic day", Putin told workers upon arrival on the Crimean side of the bridge. The United States promised that these and other introduced in connection with the Crimean events, the sanctions will remain in force until until Russian Federation will not return control of the Peninsula to Ukraine.
"The opening of this bridge represents yet another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and another example of reckless behavior".
Russian Federation annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, drawing sanctions and prompting a deterioration in ties with the West.
In Kiev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said: "The illegal construction of the Kerch bridge is the latest evidence of the Kremlin's disregard for worldwide law". But to many Russians, Putin's "return" of the popular vacation destination remains his crowning achievement.
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In the meantime, the first deputy chairman of Russia's upper chamber of parliament's worldwide affairs committee in a comment to RBC dismissed the criticism of the State Department as "evil-hearted" and noted that the Crimea has been a Russian region since 2014.
At the other end of the 19-kilometer bridge, in Crimea, Putin attended a brief open air show. The bridge is also commended for having completed its construction six months ahead of the schedule. The West responded swiftly with crippling economic sanctions.
They also claimed this stance was because of the doping scandal involving Russia's athletes.
The United States has sanctioned numerous individuals and entities involved in this project. They came back to it in the 1930s, then the 1940s and the 1950s.
The Treasury Department says Arkady Rotenberg and his brother Boris have been some of the primary beneficiaries of their closeness to Putin, receiving around $7 billion in contracts for the Sochi Winter Olympics, another prestige project for the Russian President.
"We will continue to work on similar projects across the country. We will make our peoples' lives better and more comfortable", Putin said.
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