The US State Department on Tuesday condemned the partial opening of the bridge across the Kerch Strait.
“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,” the State Department said in a statement.
The statement stresses that the bridge “represents 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 urge Russia not to impede this shipping,” said the department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert.
She stressed once again that sanctions against Russia related to the annexation of the Crimea will stay in place until the peninsula returns to Ukraine.
Earlier on Tuesday, their opinion on the opening of the Crimean bridge was expressed in the EU. In the statement of the official representative of the EU foreign policy service, Maja Kocijančič, said that the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait by Russia without Kyiv’s consent is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“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,” the spokesperson said on Twitter
In the meantime, the first deputy chairman of Russia’s upper chamber of parliament’s international affairs committee in a comment to RBC dismissed the criticism of the State Department as “evil-hearted” and noted that the Crimea has been a Russian region since 2014.
“It would be better to congratulate our country, that we are moving along a peaceful path, rather than stirring up conflicts everywhere as Americans do. The bridge is one of the examples of the peaceful construction of Russia,” Dzhabarov said.
The Crimean bridge, connecting the peninsula with the mainland Russia, was partially unveiled on May 15. President Vladimir Putin took part in the ceremony.
Railway traffic on the Kerch bridge is expected to open in 2019.