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Kiev’s threats over new Crimea bridge diversionary ploy to duck domestic plight — diplomat

May 16, 9:05 UTC+3 CRIMEAN BRIDGE

The Russian president opened the newly-built Crimean Bridge on May 15

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© Alexandr Shcherbak/TASS

CRIMEAN BRIDGE, May 16. /TASS/. Ukraine’s statements over the opening of the Crimean Bridge are baseless and aimed at distracting Ukrainians’ attention from domestic problems, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

The motorway section of the Russian bridge was officially unveiled on Tuesday, six months ahead of schedule, and opened for car traffic at 5.30 on Wednesday.

"Regretfully, this [Ukraine’s threats against Russia] have become a normal occurrence for them. I think that this is an attempt to make loud statements all the time to distract their own people from the problems that currently exist on the territory of Ukraine," she said.

Zakharova said that previous reports by Western and Ukrainian media, alleging that the Crimean bridge construction "is a fake and maybe even a result of some kind of computer graphics," demonstrate that "all this flow of hoaxes just cannot be trusted."

"If those Ukrainian politicians had not claimed from the very start that there will be no bridge and labeled it all as Russian propaganda, then we could have probably taken today’s statements seriously," the spokeswoman continued. "I think that one should simply pay less attention to what Ukrainian politicians say."

The bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland by road and rail, is the longest in the country and one of the largest in Europe. Its span stretches across 19 kilometers.

The construction and installation of the bridge kicked off in February 2016. The project’s total value is almost 228 billion rubles. The Crimean Bridge originates on the Taman Peninsula, runs through a five-kilometer dike area and the Island of Tuzla, then crosses the Kerch Strait and reaches the Crimean coast.

On March 16, 2014, Crimean authorities held a referendum on reuniting with Russia against the background of a protracted political crisis and a coup in Ukraine. Over 80% of voters participated in the plebiscite, most of them supporting the idea (96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in the city of Sevastopol).

On March 18, President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the Federal Assembly (parliament) approved the document on March 21. Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have so far refused to acknowledge Crimea as part of Russia.

The construction of the bridge’s railway section continues. It is expected to be unveiled in 2019.

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