The morning of October 8, the day after Putin turned 70, saw the bombing of the bridge, but Ukraine never admitted involvement. Now, Putin is driving across the Crimea bridge in a Mercedes.
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Less than two months after an explosion destroyed one of the Kremlin leader’s showpiece infrastructure projects, President Vladimir Putin drove a Mercedes across the Crimean Bridge, connecting southern Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula.
The 12-mile (19-kilometer) road and rail bridge, which Putin personally inaugurated in 2018, was bombed on October 8 in what Russia claimed was an attack by Ukraine, reports Reuters.
On national television, Putin was shown at the wheel of a Mercedes asking queries about the location of the attack while accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin.
“We are driving on the right hand side,” Putin said, as he drove across the bridge. “The left side of the bridge, as I understand it, is in working condition, but nevertheless it needs to be completed. It still suffered a little, we need to bring it to an ideal state.”
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The largest bridge in Europe was also inspected by Putin as he went around portions that were still clearly charred.
The morning of October 8, the day after Putin turned 70, saw the bombing of the bridge, but Ukraine never admitted involvement. The strike, according to Russia’s Federal Security Service, was planned by Ukrainian military intelligence.
Traffic across the Kerch Strait was momentarily suspended by the explosion, which destroyed a portion of the road bridge. Several fuel tankers on a train from neighboring southern Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula were also destroyed by the explosion.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, after it was handed from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine in 1954 by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and recognized by Russia after the fall of the USSR in 1994.
Ukraine has promised to repatriate Crimea, which is dependent on the bridge for supplies.
The massive structure, Europe’s longest bridge, was erected by Putin ally Arkady Rotenberg’s firm. Putin has long praised the program, bragging that Russian Tsars and Soviet leaders dreamed of constructing it but never did.