NATO, EU and US Condemn Opening of Kerch Bridge in Occupied Crimea
The bridge links mainland Russia to Moscow-annexed Crimea
Photo from Ukrinform
NATO considers the opening of the Kerch Bridge from the territory of the Russian Federation to occupied Crimea, which was opened for motor transport on May 15, as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, UNN reported with reference to AFP.
“NATO condemns Russia’s construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait bridge between Russia and Crimea. Crimea is part of Ukraine and this bridge represents another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” NATO deputy spokesman, Piers Cazalet, said in a statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a truck over the bridge as a part of the opening ceremony held on Tuesday.
The European Union also condemned the opening of the bridge. “The Russian Federation has constructed the Kerch Bridge to the Crimean Peninsula without Ukraine’s consent. This constitutes another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia,” a spokesperson for the EU said.
The United States has also denounced the bridge. In a press briefing, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, Heather Nauert, asserted that the bridge represents an attempt by Russia to solidify its unlawful seizure and occupation of Crimea.
“We saw as Vladimir Putin hopped in that truck and drove that truck from Russia into Crimea. We saw the construction and the partial opening of that bridge. It’s over a strait. One of the things I want to mention about it is that the construction of that bridge certainly limits the ability to bring in goods via ship, so it’s affected people; it’s affected Crimea, it’s affected Ukraine, in that way. The bridge represents not just an attempt for Russia to solidify its unlawful seizure and occupation of Crimea, but it also impedes that navigation that I just mentioned. So that’s something we’re watching carefully and is a concern of ours, Nauert said.
The said that Ukraine will work on extending the sanctions against those involved in constructing the bridge.
Russia started illegally building a transport passage through Kerch Strait, which connects the peninsula with Taman in Russia, immediately after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
One of the main criticisms of the bridge is that it limits sea traffic to Ukrainian ports on the Azov Sea. Also, the construction has caused $10 billion worth of damage to the ecosystem of the Black Sea and Azov Sea, according to the prosecutor’s office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.