European Union sanctions five people for organising Russian elections in Crimea

Russian

In Kiev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko slammed Putin's actions.

'It's especially cynical that the bridge is opened shortly before the anniversary of the 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars, conducted by the Stalinist regime (May 18, 1944 - 112 International)', he wrote.

Russian Federation annexed Crimea from neighboring Ukraine in 2014, drawing sanctions and prompting a sharp deterioration in ties with the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to open a 19-kilometer bridge connecting southern Russia to the Crimean peninsula on Tuesday. But many in Russia saw the move as restoring Moscow's rule over a historically Russian region.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has welcomed the decision by the Council of the European Union to impose sanctions against five persons responsible for illegally holding a Russian presidential election in the occupied Crimea and Sevastopol.

Built at a cost of 223 billion roubles ($3.60 billion), the bridge is set to be the longest dual-purpose span in Europe.

The landmark bridge will start regular operations at 5:30 a.m. through the Kerch Strait on Wednesday.

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"Putin once more demonstrated that when he carries them out, even the most ambitious plans can be achieved", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday.

"The continues to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russian Federation and will not recognise this violation of worldwide law", the spokesperson said.

"This is an extremely important day from this point of view and in a practical sense and in symbolic terms".

The construction is one of Putin's legacy projects, after the massive renovation of the Black Sea city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2012 opening of the world's longest cable-stayed bridge in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

On Tuesday Putin drove an orange Kamaz truck across the bridge as he opened the road to vehicle traffic.

The railway bridge is not yet finished and has a deadline of the end of 2019.

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