Watch: In a Mercedes, Vladimir Putin crosses the Crimea bridge

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MOSCOW: In less than two months, an explosion tore through one of the Kremlin chief’s showcase infrastructure projects. On Monday, President Vladimir Putin drove a Mercedes across the Crimean Bridge, which connects southern Russia to the Crimean peninsula that has been annexed by Russia.

On October 8, an attack that Russia claimed was carried out by Ukraine targeted the 12-mile (19-kilometer) road and rail bridge, which was personally opened by Putin in 2018.

On state television, Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin were shown behind the wheel of a Mercedes asking questions about the location of the attack.

As he drove across the bridge, Putin stated, “We are driving on the right-hand side.” According to what I understand, the left side of the bridge is functional, but it still needs to be finished. It still suffered, and we must restore it to its ideal condition.

Putin also walked along portions of the largest bridge in Europe to examine burned-out areas.

Ukraine never claimed responsibility for the attack on the bridge on October 8, one day after Putin turned 70. According to the Russian Federal Security Service, Ukrainian military intelligence orchestrated the attack.

One section of the road bridge was destroyed by the explosion, which temporarily halted traffic across the Kerch Strait. Additionally, several fuel tankers on a train traveling from southern Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula were destroyed in the blast.

In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, which had been transferred from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 and recognized by Russia in 1994 following the fall of the USSR.

Ukraine has promised to return to Crimea, which gets supplies from the bridge.

The enormous structure, which is Europe’s longest bridge, was constructed by Arkady Rotenberg’s company, a Putin ally. Putin has long praised the project, once boasting that Soviet and Russian tsars had hoped to build it but never did.

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