The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on Monday expressed strong protest to the Russian Federation in connection with the opening of railway traffic across the Kerch Strait bridge from mainland Russia to the occupied Crimea.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses strong protest in connection with the uncoordinated visit of President of the Russian Federation, V. Putin, to the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the opening of railway traffic on the so-called 'Crimean bridge' across the Kerch Strait, which the Russian side built without Ukraine's consent and with gross violation of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea," the statement reads.
At the same time, Ukrainian diplomats emphasized that "neither the visits of Russian officials to Crimea, nor the construction of the bridge, nor any other actions by the occupation administration, can in any way change the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as an integral part of the territory of Ukraine enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders."
The actions of the Russian Federation regarding the so-called "Crimean bridge" flagrantly violate the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, bilateral treaty obligations to Ukraine, and fundamentally contradict generally recognized norms and principles of international law, the statement notes.
"Neither Ukraine, nor any civilized state in the world has recognized the Kremlin’s petty attempts to legitimize the annexation of a part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine. Once again, we emphasize that the Russian Federation, as an occupying state, bears full responsibility for the consequences of its internationally wrongful acts," the statement said. "We demand that the Russian side cease the illegal actions and any activity in the territories of Ukraine that are temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation – the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol," Ukrainian diplomats stated.
In this regard, the corresponding note of protest was handed over to the Russian side.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on May 15, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the motorway part of the Kerch Strait bridge. He announced the need to build a transport passage across the Kerch Strait immediately after the start of Crimea occupation, in March 2014.
The construction of the bridge negatively affected the operations of Ukrainian ports in Mariupol and Berdyansk (both in the Sea of Azov) since not all ships navigating there are able to pass under the bridge.
The 19km-long bridge connects the occupied peninsula and the Krasnodar Territory of the Russian Federation.
Today, December 23, Putin opened a rail link across the bridge between the Taman Peninsula and the occupied Crimea.