Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Russian government on Wednesday to start preparations for the construction of a bridge linking the southern Russian Krasnodar Territory directly with Crimea.
Crimea, previously an autonomous republic within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority, signed a reunification treaty with Moscow on Tuesday following a referendum Sunday in which some 96.7 percent of voters backed joining Russia after 60 years as part of Ukraine.
Putin said the bridge over the Kerch Strait, connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, should be suitable for both road and rail traffic.
Transport minister Maxim Sokolov said several projects of the bridge to the Black Sea peninsula that would bypass mainland Ukraine will be ready by the end of this year.
The minister said that a possibility of laying a tunnel under the Kerch Strait is being considered as a possible option.
The idea to build a bridge that would span the 4.5-kilometer strait has been under discussion for a decade. Moscow and Kiev eventually came to an agreement last December.