Russia’s Putin drives across repaired bridge to Crimea

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to boost Russian morale Monday by driving a vehicle across a bridge to Crimea that a truck bomb had damaged in October.

Putin took the wheel to drive across the bridge that links Russia’s mainland with the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

While driving, he discussed the repairs of the Crimean Bridge with Marat Khusnulin, a deputy prime minister in charge of the project, an exchange that was broadcast by Russian television.

The president also spoke to workers involved in restoring the 19-kilometer (12-mile) bridge, which has been the main conduit for ferrying supplies to Crimea that has served as a key base for Russian military operations in Ukraine.

The Oct. 8 truck bomb attack disrupted travel on one of the two automobile lanes of the bridge. Russia blamed the attack on Ukrainian military intelligence and responded with several waves of strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities and other key infrastructure, the latest of which was launched Monday.

In view of Ukrainian threats to launch new attacks on the bridge, Putin emphasized the need to build a highway along the Sea of Azov coast to link Crimea with regions in southern Russia, the Kremlin said.


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