Russian PM Medvedev Presents Plans to Build Bridge into Ukrainian Crimea
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has revamped a long-ago abandoned project to connect Russia to the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea by constructing a bridge, shortly after Russian military occupied the territory.
According to Reuters, a bridge from the Russian region of Krasnodar to Crimea would allow Russia to enter the region without passing through any other part of Ukraine. Crimea, an ethnically Russian area, has seen pro-Russia and anti-Maidan protests in the past weeks that have escalated into Russia sending troops directly into the region. The new government of Ukraine is calling the move an "armed invasion" by the Russian Federation.
The plan is not new. In his announcement of the project on Monday, Medvedev asserted that Ukrainian government officials had signed "documents related to a project for construction of a transport corridor across the Kerch Strait." He added that the deal had not been "modified nor opposed by anyone." The documents were signed under the tenure of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, whose decision to sign a trade deal with Russia and reject the same from the European Union triggered the widespread protests that led to his demise.
Yaonkovych is said to have fled to Russia once his government fell. The new government, which is adamantly opposed to the presence of Russian armed forces in the region, has not agreed to any such plan.
Medvedev's announcement, he explained, was not intended merely to announce plans, but to declare that a construction company has been assigned the project. Medvedev signed an order for the project with a local company on March 3.
The tension between the new Ukrainian government, led by Interim President Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to rise. The new Ukrainian government, which Russia has yet to recognize, is moving troops close to the border with Russia and denouncing the move by the neighboring country as an "invasion." The anti-Russian sentiment in Kiev is not shared by those in Crimea, however, where protesters managed to get politicians to dissolve their Parliament and install new, pro-Russia officials after unidentified armed men stormed the Parliament and raised a Russian flag. Prime Minister Medvedev, who both preceded and succeeded Putin as president, has predicted that the new government will not last.
As Russia proceeds to enter deeper and deeper into Ukraine, the Western powers have mobilized to sanction their military activity. The Western G8 powers (except, obviously, Russia) have agreed to halt preparations for their meeting, while in a 90-minute phone call, President Obama told President Putin to withdraw troops.