He’s in the driver’s seat — at least when it comes to this bridge.
Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a Mercedes-Benz on the recently repaired span linking Russia to Crimea Monday, part of a publicity stunt that was broadcast on Russian state TV.
Putin drove along the 12-mile Kerch Strait bridge — which was torn apart by an explosion nearly two months ago — while chatting with Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin in the passenger seat.
“We are driving on the right-hand side,” Putin said while driving. “The left side of the bridge, as I understand it, is in working condition, but nevertheless it needs to be completed. It still suffered a little, we need to bring it to an ideal state.”
The bridge connects Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which the Kremlin annexed in 2014. It was heavily damaged in October by a massive detonation for which Kyiv has not taken credit.
Photos Monday also showed Putin walking the bridge, with scorched sections of the structure visible behind him.
The bridge carries both car and rail traffic, and is a major supply line for Russian forces in Crimea — which Ukraine has vowed to retake.
The bridge was lauded as a flagship industrial project by Putin after it opened in 2018. At the Russian leader christened the bridge by driving the first truck over it.
Russia has publicly blamed Ukraine’s military intelligence services for the attack on the bridge, and the Kremlin’s subsequent near-daily bombardment of Ukraine’s power infrastructure began soon afterwards.
Putin’s appearance at the bridge is the closest the leader has publicly gotten to the war he started in February, when he ordered his army to invade Ukraine.
With Post wires