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Canadian top diplomat condemns Russia’s opening Kerch Strait Bridge

May 17, 3:45 UTC+3 OTTAWA

Chrystia Freeland added that her country continued to support Ukraine in what concerned its sovereignty

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OTTAWA, May 17. /TASS/. Canada condemns Russia’s opening the Kerch Strait Bridge as violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Canada condemns the construction and partial opening today (on May 16 - TASS) of the Kerch Strait Bridge," she said. "The bridge, which links Russia to illegally-annexed Crimea, represents yet another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by the Russian Federation. It aims to harden Russia’s unlawful hold on the peninsula and to forcibly isolate it from the rest of Ukraine."

She added that her country continued to support Ukraine in what concerned its sovereignty. "We call on the Russian Federation to cease its violations of this fundamental tenet of the rules-based international order," she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the opening ceremony of the Crimean Bridge motorway section Tuesday, driving the lead vehicle of the construction equipment convoy. The construction of the bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland kicked off in February 2016. The construction of its railway section continues, its opening is scheduled for 2019. 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.

After a coup d’etat in Kiev in February 2014, the authorities of Crimea and Sevastopol made a decision to hold a referendum on reunification with Russia.

The referendum, which took place on March 16, 2014, was attended by over 80% of the Black Sea peninsula’s eligible voters. As many as 96.77% of Crimean residents and 95.6% of Sevastopol residents voted for reuniting with Russia.

On March 18 that year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on reintegrating the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol into Russia and on March 21 the document was ratified by both houses of Russia’s parliament. Despite the referendum’s convincing results, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have been refusing to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

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