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The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stressed that Ukraine would consistently work to expand national and worldwide sanctions against individuals and legal entities involved in the illegal construction of the Kerch bridge.

The annexation of the peninsula in 2014 was condemned by Kiev and the West as an illegal land grab but applauded in Russian Federation.

Vladimir Putin has opened a bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea, tightening Russia's hold over the contested peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. In 2016 the USA imposed sanctions on Russian companies that were helping to build the bridge across the Kerch strait.

"The Russian occupying powers, which have temporarily occupied Crimea, are continuing to act outside global law", Volodymyr told the French news agency.

Built at a cost of 223 billion roubles ($3.6 billion US), it will be the longest dual-purpose span bridge in Europe. "Many didn't believe these plans were possible", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony.

The construction is one of Putin's legacy projects, after the massive renovation of the Black Sea city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2012 opening of the world's longest cable-stayed bridge in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

"Today, both in a practical sense and from a symbolic point of view, is an extremely important day", he added.

In July 2017, the bridge's arch for road traffic was installed.

Putin, who personally drove a Russian Kamaz truck across the bridge from Russia's Taman peninsula to Ukraine's Crimea at the head of a column of 35 cars, announced that cargo transport would start moving across the bridge from autumn and that the parallel railway bridge would open in a year. "This constitutes another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russian Federation", the European Union said.

Originally, the bridge was expected to be built before 2018 and put into operation in the summer of 2019.