“Let us hope that we will fulfil this historic mission.
Undoubtedly, it will create additional opportunities for economic growth.” The bridge is being built by a company owned by Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s judo partner, who was among the first in the president’s entourage to be slapped with Western sanctions after Crimea’s annexation.
But we continue to pay for it,” Russian business daily Vedomosti wrote in an editorial on Friday.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reiterated on Friday Crimea’s annexation was illegal and the peninsula should be returned to Ukraine.
PRO-RUSSIAN POPULATION Russian officials say Crimea’s 2 million people voiced their desire to join Russia in a democratic vote in 2014, so there was no violation of international law.
Given Crimea’s history within Russia, many residents feel closer to Moscow than to Kiev. Now its businesses are starved of tourists and international investment is barred by Western sanctions.
Russia was hit with international sanctions over the annexation and Crimea remains largely cut off overland from Ukraine, depending on ships to keep it resupplied from Russia.
Building the bridge, at a cost of 212 billion rubles (.13 billion), and supporting Crimea will impose additional burdens on Russia’s shrinking state budget, which has been hammered by a collapse in global oil prices - the country’s main export.
Though they lack official authority, they hope to prevent inter-ethnic conflict.
Crimean Tatars - whose ties to the region pre-dates Russia's 18th century conquest - say they distrust Moscow's intentions considering past history dating back to imperial times and more recently the 20th century when Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia.
We call on Russia to immediately release the 24 detained Ukrainian servicemen and return the seized vessels.
Russia must allow free and unhindered passage through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov.” This week marks the fifth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which took place between late February and March 2014.
But the costs of annexation will be much higher as sanctions - which the International Monetary Fund has said could cut Russian GDP by 9 percent - continue to exact their toll.