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World A Bridge to Crimea Strengths Russia's Hand Against Ukraine

01:52  27 december  2019
01:52  27 december  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

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Vladimir Putin has opened a bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea , tightening Russia ’ s hold over the contested peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and

" Russia ' s bridge to Crimea : A metaphor for the Putin era". There is no overland transportation link between Russia and Crimea , and building a bridge across the shortest waterway, near the Crimean city of Kerch, would take ^ " Russia Defends Opening of Crimea Bridge Against U.S. Criticism".

a close up of a bridge© Valery Matytsin/Zuma Press

MOSCOW—A new rail bridge from Russia to Crimea is solidifying Russia’s hold on the peninsula it seized from Ukraine five years ago, and could prove a headache for Ukrainian leader President Volodymyr Zelensky just weeks after agreeing on a raft of measures to dial back tensions with Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the 12-mile long bridge this week, with the first train completing the day-and-half journey from Moscow to the Crimean capital Simferopol soon after. Some political analysts were quick to see it as a show of intent.

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Moreover, Russia will have to undertake costly projects to connect Crimea to the Russian water supply This requires building a bridge and a pipeline across the Kerch Strait. Also, Novinite claims that a On the other hand , western oil experts estimate that Russia ' s seizing of Crimea , and the

Russia officially claims Crimea . Ukraine overshadows EU summit. In his speech to the Russian Federation Council and the deputies of the Duma, against the magnificent backdrop of the Grand Kremlin Palace on Tuesday, Putin referred to Crimea as an "inseparable part" of Russia and accused

This is one more message from Putin that we’ll never return Crimea,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, chair of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “He demonstrates that Crimea is again and again and again ours, that this is our territory [and] we are developing this territory.”

Starting on the Taman Peninsula on the Russian end of the Black Sea, the bridge runs along a 3-mile long dam and runs above Tuzla Island before crossing the Kerch Strait before reaching the Crimea, which has long been the primary base for Russia’s Black Sea fleet. It runs parallel to a road bridge that was opened to cars in May 2018, which the U.S. criticized as “a reminder of Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law.”

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Earlier this week Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the railway bridge to Crimea , which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. © Thomson Reuters Russian President Vladimir Putin stands in a cabin of a train traveling from Kerch to Taman across a bridge , which was constructed to

Putin opens bridge linking Russia to Crimea . The 19-kilometer bridge , now the longest in Europe, links Russia ' s Krasnodar region with the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.

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The new railway section is drawing similar complaints. The European Union has condemned it as “yet another step toward a forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula.”

Ukrainian officials said they have begun a criminal probe, arguing that the trains illegally carried people across the Ukrainian border. “Neither Ukraine or any other civilized state of the world will recognize the ineffective attempts of the Kremlin to legitimize the annexation of a part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

But given Moscow’s willingness to endure Western sanctions for annexing Crimea, there appears to be little Ukraine and President Zelensky can do about it, despite his pledges to win back Ukraine’s lost lands in his election campaign this year, including the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine near the border with Russia, where at least 13,000 people have been killed.

Putin opens Russian rail route to annexed Crimea

  Putin opens Russian rail route to annexed Crimea President Vladimir Putin on Monday opened a rail route linking Russia's two biggest cities to Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and said it proved that the country could deliver on giant infrastructure projects. Putin inaugurated the passenger service by personally taking a train across the road and rail bridge which Russian engineers built to link Crimea to southern Russia after an earlier pre-annexation route which ran through Ukraine was shut down. "With your work, talent, determination and single-mindedness, you've shown that Russia is able to do such world-scale infrastructure projects.

Russia established a physical link to Crimea , the Black Sea peninsula it seized from Ukraine in 2014, by opening a 12-mile bridge from the mainland. The bridge , finished six months ahead of schedule, established a land link from Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which the Russian military seized from

Ukrainian officials opened a criminal probe Wednesday after a passenger train from Russia arrived in Crimea via a new Russian -built bridge , arguing that the train illegally carried people across the Ukrainian border.

Following his first-ever peace talks with Mr. Putin in Paris earlier this month, Mr. Zelensky was again adamant that “Donbas, like Crimea, are Ukrainian territories,” he said.

“What else can he say?” said Alexei Makarkin, vice president of the Center of Political Technologies, an independent think tank in Moscow. “If you’re a political strategist of President Zelensky, what can you advise him [to say], given that he is being criticized for other possible concessions to Russia?”

Unlike in Donbas, where a prisoner swap is scheduled to take place before the end of the year, the Ukrainian president has acknowledged that Ukraine doesn’t have a specific plan for regaining control of Crimea. According to Ukrainian media reports, Mr. Zelensky has said that doing so would require help from other countries.

The opening of this second bridge to the peninsula could further undermine him at a time when critics already are protesting his deal with Mr. Putin to ease tensions in Donbas, which also includes withdrawing Ukrainian troops from the front lines and holding elections in areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

“This is a problem for him and a problem for his position and his image and his ratings,” Mr. Kolesnikov said. “It is really quite hurtful for Zelensky, but this is the reality.”

The official Russian news agency, TASS, reported that Grand Service Express, a company that operates passenger rail traffic to Crimea, plans to launch eight new routes to the region in May 2020, in time for the start of the tourist season. Rostourism, Russia’s national tourism agency, told reporters Wednesday it expected an almost 20% growth of tourist traffic to Crimea thanks to the passenger railway. Meanwhile, Russian Railways is studying the possibility of using the port of Taman to deliver cargo, such as coal, to India via the Suez Canal, TASS reported.

“This is a signal that Russia is investing heavily…in order to connect Crimea with the rest of Russia,” Mr. Makarkin said. “Russia will never give up Crimea.”

Write to Ann M. Simmons at ann.simmons@wsj.com

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