Russia opens Crimean Bridge

A 19-kilometre bridge now connects the Russian mainland with Crimea, allowing vehicles to cross to the peninsula annexed four years ago by Russia. The US and the EU have criticised the project on the grounds that Crimea is still part of Ukraine in their view. For Russia the bridge is a brilliant strategic move in many respects, commentators write.

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Den (UA) / 18 May 2018

That's the way to do geopolitics!

With the bridge Putin is showing up Ukraine, writes columnist Andrej Plachonin in Den:

“The Crimean Bridge alone shows us that Russia isn't as weak as it seems, that it won't collapse when it is punished with sanctions or when the price of oil or the rouble goes down. It is demonstrating that in this war not only he who fights better wins, but also he who builds. Incidentally, the latter is one of the reasons why we lost Crimea. In 25 years Ukraine never managed to build a normal road to Crimea. Putin did it in just four years. It looks like Crimea was more important to him. Connecting two countries by building bridges and roads - that's applied geopolitics. For this reason alone they must be built, even if they're not always necessary from an economic point of view.”

Echo of Moscow (RU) / 16 May 2018

Ukraine's experts were very mistaken

Russia's new Crimean bridge is a wonderful achievement for the peninsula, Crimea-based blogger Alexander Gorny writes in Echo of Moscow:

“Crimea and the Krasnodar area have de facto been merged into a single economic region. The synergy effect once the bridge is connected to the Tavrida highway in a year's time is still hard to assess, nevertheless it stands to be enormous. Notwithstanding all my criticism of the state power, from time to time a thumbs-up is called for. And the opening of the bridge deserves a major thumbs-up. ... Russia has pulled off a project of that few would have dreamed possible just several years ago. Hundreds of videos have been posted on the Internet in which Ukrainian politicians and experts maintained that the bridge would never be built and that the images of it were nothing but Russian propaganda.”

Kapital (BG) / 16 May 2018

Bridge is proof of resolve

The Crimean Bridge is meant to demonstrate Moscow's determination to open up its new territory, writes Kapital:

“The annexation of Crimea and the expected blockade of its 2.3 million inhabitants [by Ukraine] have put Moscow in a tight spot. ... For the Kremlin the main priority was to show that it is able to secure quick access to the new territory. But the need for a rail connection was completely overestimated. Does Krimea really need that many trains, and will they ever be profitable? The tourist season on the peninsula lasts about four months, but who takes the train to a long-distance holiday destination nowadays? The Crimean bridge was mainly about the Russian state showing that it will go to any lengths to realize something it has set itself as a goal.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) / 17 May 2018

Oil prices boosting Russia's self-confidence

The bridge shows that Russia doesn't care about the West's sanctions, Savon Sanomat observes:

“In principle the US, the EU and Ukraine can never accept the annexation of Crimea and Russia's involvement in the war in eastern Ukraine. The bridge can't change this, even if it basically makes the annexation permanent. The annexation is of such great domestic importance to the current Russian government that international relations come second here. The relations between Russia and Ukraine have turned into a frozen conflict. The economic sanctions don't seem to be helping - which is partially explained by the 70 percent increase in the price of oil within a year. Thanks to oil Russia can maintain its illusion of being a major power.”

Unian (UA) / 14 May 2018

There's always money for prestige projects

Moscow made 228.3 billion ruble (2.9 billion euros at the time) available for the bridge project in 2016. This money could have been better spent, Russia correspondent Roman Tsymbalyuk writes in Unian:

“No matter how long this construction stands, a fact is a fact: before there was no bridge, now there is one. And the Russian 'PR gods' will have a field day with that. .. The cost of the bridge connecting Russia with occupied Crimea is completely irrelevant. Of course, with such sums you could provide medical treatment for all the children of Russia, but that doesn't matter when the greatness of the Russian Federation is at stake. Russia will always come up with money for the 'construction of the century'. If someone lacks something somewhere, that's their problem. And if they aren't happy they can always compensate by watching television.”

gazeta.ru (RU) / 15 May 2018

A wonderous construction of geopolitical import

For gazeta.ru, on the other hand, money was not the key factor behind this construction project:

“The 19-kilometre-long bridge is the longest bridge in Russia and Europe. It is a complicated construction and has shown that the Russian engineering spirit can still fill the world with wonder. Because there were plenty who believed that this project was impossible as the ground in this area is particularly unstable. ... The Crimean Bridge is among those projects in which the costs were important, but even more important was to provide an answer to geopolitical challenges. Without a reliable connection to the rest of Russia Crimea would never have been completely annexed.”

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