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Start your engines: Putin driving truck, opens newly-built Crimean Bridge

Start your engines: Putin driving truck, opens newly-built Crimean Bridge

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally drove a Kamaz trip-truck, heading a column of construction vehicles, across the newly-opened bridge connecting mainland Russia with Crimean Peninsula.

Construction on the bridge to link Crimea with Russia's Krasnodar region began in February 2016. Some Russians are calling it "Putin's bridge", created to link Crimea into Russia's transport network.

Putin led a convoy of 35 vehicles across the bridge, which took 16 minutes to cross. "Finally, thanks to your labor and your talent this project, this miracle has come true".

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".

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

Many in Russia saw the bridge as a move toward restoring Moscow's rule over a historically Russian region.

Ukraine has condemned the project, which cost 228 billion rubles ($3.7 billion). A railway bridge is due to be completed by the end of 2019. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony.

"Today, both in a practical sense and from a symbolic point of view, is an extremely important day", he added. The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule.

The bridge will have a maximum speed of circulation of about 90 kilometers per hour and from tomorrow on it will be officially opened for the circulation of cars and buses.

"The construction of the bridge, like any other actions of the Kremlin's occupying authorities, in no way can change the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as an integral part of the territory of Ukraine in its internationally recognized borders", the statement said.

The landmark bridge will start regular operations at 5:30 a.m. through the Kerch Strait on Wednesday.

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