After 27 months of construction, a bridge over the Kerch Strait linking the Crimean peninsula with Russia’s Krasnodar Kray opened for traffic in May. In a dramatic PR stunt, President Vladimir Putin unveiled the bridge by driving across the 19-kilometer span in an orange KamAz truck.
Plans for the bridge were announced immediately after Moscow occupied and then annexed the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. The ostensible goal of the bridge is to end Crimea’s physical isolation, boosting tourism and easing shipping, which to this point has relied on a Soviet-era ferry link prone to closures during bad weather.
The four-lane bridge surpasses the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal as Europe’s longest. The top-priority government project has cost a reported $4 billion, and companies participating in the construction – notably Stroygazmontazh, belonging to Putin’s ally Arkady Rotenberg – have been targeted by Western sanctions. A railway bridge is still under construction, set to open in late 2019.
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