Vladimir Putin and construction workers pose for a photograph on the construction site of a bridge across the Strait of Kerch. Photograph: Tass/Barcroft Media
President made statement to workers on bridge between Crimea and Russia on anniversary of annexation.
Vladimir Putin, marking the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has exhorted workers building a bridge between the Black Sea peninsula and Russia to fulfil a “historic mission” conceived by a Russian tsar.
Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine on 16 March 2014 after an uprising toppled Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, but the peninsula has since struggled with economic isolation.
The annexation unleashed a wave of patriotic euphoria in Russia and Crimea, but Putin needs to ensure public attitudes do not sour over the economic costs. Russia was hit with international sanctions over the annexation and Crimea remains largely cut off overland from Ukraine, depending on ships to keep it resupplied from Russia.
As cities around Russia prepared to celebrate the second anniversary of Moscow’s “reunification” of Crimea, Putin visited the site and said the bridge, which will stretch 12 miles across the Kerch Strait, would integrate the peninsula with Russia.
“Our and your predecessors understood the importance of this bridge,” he said, referring to aborted plans dating back to Tsarist Russia. The bridge is being built by a company owned by Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s judo partner.
Reuters, The Guardian