News

Putin Opens Bridge to Crimea, Cementing Russia’s Hold on Neighbor

“It will be easier to get to Crimea, but the basic level of the facilities, the basic infrastructure along the coast there remains low,” Ms. Zubarevich said.

Locals, however, who were expected to start using the bridge on Wednesday, were ecstatic. It lifted the sense of isolation that they have felt since Ukraine cut off railroad links and made the border crossing difficult in the wake of the annexation. Crimeans were dependent either on airplanes or the ferry across the Kerch Strait, where volatile weather in winter and long lines in summer often caused lengthy delays and drove up prices for basic goods.

Critics of the bridge said a new high-speed ferry service would have been far cheaper, but the idea of a physical link carried the day.

Putin Opens Bridge to Crimea, Cementing Russia’s Hold on Neighbor
Putin Opens Bridge to Crimea, Cementing Russia’s Hold on Neighbor

“People see it as a fantastic dream that came true,” Natalya V. Bykovskaya, deputy director of the historical museum in Kerch, where the bridge lands in Crimea, said in a telephone interview. “People expect a change for the better. The mainland will become closer, not just mentally but physically.”

Russia’s state-controlled media went out of its way to lavish praise on the bridge, calling it “the construction project of the century” and a work of art. “We have been waiting for the Crimean bridge for over 1,000 years,” gushed one television correspondent, adding that the opening of the bridge was the main global news development of the day.

In Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko called the bridge’s construction “illegal” and “the latest evidence of the Kremlin’s disregard for international law,” adding that it could be useful for a swift withdrawal of Russian forces.

When Mr. Putin first proposed the project, no Russian company wanted to touch it. The engineering challenge was formidable, and any involvement with Crimea carried the risk of international sanctions.

Similar Posts