US and EU condemn opening of Crimean bridge by Russia

On Tuesday, May 15, the US Department of State commented on the opening of the Kerch Strait bridge between Russia and Crimea to partial traffic. An official statement by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert was published on Department’s website.

"The United States condemns Russia’s construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea, which was done without the permission of the government of Ukraine. Crimea is part of Ukraine. Russia’s construction of the bridge serves as a reminder of Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law," Nauert stated.

The statement stresses that the bridge is "not only an attempt by Russia to solidify its unlawful seizure and its occupation of Crimea, but also impedes navigation by limiting the size of ships that can transit the Kerch Strait, the only path to reach Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov." " We call on Russia not to impede this shipping," Nauert said.

She stressed once again that sanctions against Russia related to the annexation of the Crimea will continue until the peninsula is returned to Ukraine.

Earlier on Tuesday, the EU published its own opinion on the opening of the Crimean bridge. An official statement by the EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Maja Kocijancic, affirmed that the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait by Russia without Kyiv's permission is a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty. The statement also stressed that the bridge interferes with the passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait to ports located in the Sea of ​​Azov.

"The construction of the bridge aims at the further forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russia and its isolation from Ukraine of which it remains a part," Kocijancic said.

The European Union stressed that the bridge was built without the permission of Ukraine, in violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. In addition, it prevents the passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait to the ports located in the Azov Sea.

The EU said that it continues to condemn the illegal "annexation" of Crimea and Sevastopol.

The Kerch Strait bridge, which connects the Crimean peninsula with mainland Russia, was opened on May 15. President Vladimir Putin took part in the ceremony, during which he sat behind the wheel of Kamaz truck that headed a column of construction equipment going toward Kerch. It is expected that the bridge will open to car traffic on May 16, and that trucks will be able to travel over the bridge beginning in October. Railway traffic on the Crimean bridge will commence in 2019.

  Kerch Strait Bridge, Crimea, Russia, USA, EU