President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday unveiled the new bridge to the Crimean peninsula, which Russian Federation annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The Russian president got behind the wheel in the cabin of a Kamaz truck to lead a convoy of 35 vehicles across the bridge in a typical he-man stunt.
I congratulate you for this truly historic feat, said the head of state, who raised his microphone in a stage prepared for the occasion in order to celebrate an event that already became the pride of Russian engineering because there was no foreign participation.
Russian Federation annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, drawing sanctions and prompting a deterioration in ties with the West.
"The illegal construction of the Kerch bridge is another evidence of the contempt for global law by the Kremlin".
"It is particularly cynical that its opening is happening on the eve of the latest anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean-Tatar people by the Stalin regime".
The Russian embassy, however, said that "the United States remarks were predictable and Moscow was not asking anyone's authorization for building infrastructure projects on its territory".
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US Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday that the construction allegedly impedes navigation and "limits the ability to bring in goods via ship".
"Washington is predictably dissatisfied". In 1954, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred control of Crimea from Russian Federation to Ukraine, and regaining the region has been a nationalist rallying cry for decades.
Minister for European Affairs Alan Duncan reminded that the Crimea is part of Ukraine, and its annexation is a violation of worldwide law.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement that the bridge was built and launched "without the permission of the government of Ukraine".
The 19-kilometer bridge, now the longest in Europe, links Russia's Krasnodar region with the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russian Federation from Ukraine in 2014.
Two auto lanes have opened to the public today but the railway section of the bridge is not scheduled to be completed in late 2019.
Russian media have documented Putin's close involvement in the project at length.