The Crimean Bridge, which will finally join mainland Russia from Krasnodarsky Krai, to the Kerch region of Crimea is about to be finished. The bridge spans the Kerch Strait, not far from the beautiful pink salt lakes.
Construction of the bridge, the longest in Russia with a span of 19 kilometers, has been carried out since February 2016, and it is opening for cars more than half a year ahead of schedule.
The bridge capacity is 40,000 cars and 47 pairs of trains per day, 14 million passengers and 13 million tons of cargo per year. The railway section is scheduled to open in early 2019, the bridge will be opened for trucks starting from October of this year.
RT also notes that:
“Each pillar of the bridge needs about 400 tons of metal structures, which means that all pillars need as much iron as 32 Eiffel towers. The bridge’s piles are installed at least 90 meters under water.”
In 2014, the people of Crimea exercised their right to self-determination, and voted to rejoin Russia, which Ukraine too, was once a part of. This was heavily motivated by the events in Ukraine, after the Maidan coup. The people of Crimea saw the dangerous rise of Nazism in the Ukraine, such as when innocent people were burned alive in Odessa, by neo-Nazis. We covered this extensively in this article, which is highly recommended for those that wish to understand what happened, and what was one of the many motivations for the Crimean return to Russia.
A Brief History of Crimea and Russia
It is worth saying that Crimeans did not betray Ukraine, nor their homeland, as all of Ukraine was once a key part of Russia. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus are descended from Kievan Rus’, the first East Slavic state. Russia is the largest successor of Kievan Rus’, so if anything, Crimeans simply returned to their own people – Russians – while brother Ukrainians were tearing each other apart.
The three peoples were divided after the Mongol invasion of 1240, into feudal principalities, and much of Ukraine fell under the control of Lithuania and Poland after 1360.
Crimea and southern Ukraine, however, were part of the Wild Fields, where Tatars ruled, and Crimea was once the capital of a Tatar Khanate, and before that, a Greek city.
By 1654, Cossacks of Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky lead a successful uprising against Poland, and reunited Ukraine with Russia.
These Cossacks mostly lived in what has been called in varying times, Hetmanshina, or the area around the Dnipro River, from as far north as Kiev, down to their fortress in Zhaporozhia, meaning “Beyond the Rapids (of the Dnipro). Many fled from Polish rule to these “Wild Fields Beyond the Rapids”, leaving Little Russia, and going into a new land, not unlike the American or Canadian frontier.
The area around Kiev, Poltava, and Chernigov, however, was the former heartland of Rus’. It was located south of the heartland of the Russian Empire, but north of the Wild Fields. It was called Little Russia, and the people, Little Russians. The term Ukraine, originally simply meaning borderland, was popularized by the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a means of dividing the Rus’ people, however, generally speaking, Little Russian=Ukrainian.
After the reunification of Little Russia, the Cossacks would help the Russian Empire liberate all of modern-day southern Ukraine, from Turkish and Tatar forces. The Cossacks (Little Russians) settled this new land, together with standard Russians. They called the land in the Wild Fields “New Russia” – Novorossia, to distinguish it from Little Russia, and because it was a newly liberated Russian land, not strongly connected to Old Rus’, or Little Russia.
It was in New Russia, that the major cities were built by Empress Catherine the Great, including Odessa, Mikolaiv, (New) Kherson, and the Crimean cities of Sevastopol (built beside ancient Greek Old Kherson) and Simferopol.
As a result of the fact, that New Russia was previously occupied by the Turkic forces, and had no major Slavic cities prior to the Great Russian liberation, the area was settled by many Russians coming directly from Russia, as opposed to Little Russians (Ukrainians) who had developed their own sub-culture to the north and west.
This is not to say Ukrainian people never lived in New Russia, but the area has always had a strong Ethnic Russian presence. This is reflected by the linguistic and ethnic divide in Ukraine; South-Eastern Ukraine is very Russian. While Ukrainians themselves, can be considered a sub-ethnos of the broader Rus’ people, the inhabitants of New Russia are more directly, and recently tied to modern Russia, than other parts of Ukraine.
While Little Russia was developing a slightly different local culture, like that between Sicily and Italy, New Russia was immediately settled by standard Russians, who spoke the standard Russian language.
Crimea especially, is extremely Russian, as the peninsula was given to Soviet Ukraine by Khruschyov in 1954, though it’s worth noting that all Ukraine save for the west, was part of Russia as 37 years prior to that. Still, Crimea was closer to Russia, than to Ukraine in almost every way, save for physical connection.
The peninsula is only joined by land via Ukraine, and since the Crisis, travel could be difficult. The Ukrainian SBY in neighboring Kherson, even put up billboards saying they would “cure” people of Russophilia.
Crimeans were, therefore, after their vote to join Russia, cut off from rest of mainland Russia, and forced to travel directly to their own country by boat or plain. With this new bridge, a permanent physical bond will join the Crimean peninsula to the Russian Federation, just as the people were always joined in their hearts.