As cities around Russia prepared to celebrate the second anniversary of what Moscow calls the reunification of Crimea, which was part of Russia until 1954, Putin visited the construction site where the bridge is taking shape.
He said the bridge, which will span 19 km (12 miles) across the Kerch Strait from Crimea to southern Russia, would integrate the peninsula with Russia and help stimulate the economy."Our and your predecessors understood the importance of this bridge," he told workers at an inspection of the site on an island just off Crimea's coast, referring to aborted plans dating back to Tsarist Russia."Let us hope that we will fulfil this historic mission.
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The ensuing Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca forced the Sublime Porte to recognize the Tatars of the Crimea as politically independent.
Catherine the Great's incorporation of the Crimea in 1783 from the defeated Ottoman Empire into the Russian Empire increased Russia's power in the Black Sea area.
Given Crimea's history within Russia, many residents feel closer to Moscow than to Kiev. Now its businesses are starved of tourists and international investment is barred by Western sanctions.
A dependence on Ukraine for power supplies has also left them vulnerable to pro-Ukrainian activists who sabotaged electricity cables last year, subjecting the peninsula to weeks of rolling blackouts.
They were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire, which conquered the coastal areas as well, in the 15th to 18th centuries.The modern history of the Crimea begins with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by Catherine the Great in 1783 and the handing over of the Crimea by the Ottoman Empire to Russia as part of the Treaty provision.After two centuries of conflict, the Russian fleet had destroyed the Ottoman navy and the Russian army had inflicted heavy defeats on the Ottoman land forces.In the 13th century, some port cities were controlled by the Venetians and by the Genovese.The Crimean interior was much less stable, enduring a long series of conquests and invasions; by the early medieval period it had been settled by Scythians (Scytho-Cimmerians), Tauri, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Kipchaks and Khazars.