How Putin’s Crimean bridge grew over 2016-2017 – satellite images

Construction of the Bridge near Kerch

Construction of the Bridge near Kerch, the eastermost city of the occupied Crimea. Photo: 


Article by: Valeriia Darynova. Graphics by Valeriia Darynova

With the help of Sentinel satellite imagery, the Ukrainian media outlet investigated how the construction of the Bridge which Russia builds to connect Crimea to Russia has changed since February 2016. The article also reminds how Stalin tried to build a similar bridge.

The construction by Russia of the Kerch Strait (Crimean) Bridge goes along according to the plan and to the song. That is, the bridge is still not completed, though a competition for the best song about its construction has been held – and its finalists have even been chosen.

“We fly like birds, we use the atom, and beneath the cities we built metros. But a gap gapes between our fellow Crimea and faithful Russia, disturbing us inside,” sang the 3rd place contestant.

Satellite images of Kerch Strait Bridge (February 2016 – October 2017)

SENTINEL satellite imagery shows the progress since February 2016 of the Russia's illegal construction of its bridge to occupied Crimea to connect the peninsula to Russia's Krasnodar Krai region. Image: Download high-resolution image.

SENTINEL satellite imagery shows the progress since February 2016 of the Russia’s illegal construction of its bridge to occupied Crimea to connect the peninsula to Russia’s Krasnodar Krai region. Image: Download high-resolution image. See the animation below.

In the pictures, the bridge extends from the long spit-like Tuzla Island. This Ukrainian island was at the center of a conflict back in 2003, when Russia began to build a dam from its shores to Tuzla.

Construction ended only after Ukraine indicated that it would resort to arms if construction crossed the Ukrainian border. Completed portions of the dam have been re-used in the current bridge.

Editor’s Note

2003 Tuzla Dispute, an early attack of the hybrid war against Ukraine

  • September 2003: Russia starts building works on a causeway to link southern Russia to Ukraine’s Tuzla Island in the Kerch Strait east of Crimea.
  • The local Russian authorities claim that the project is designed to prevent coastal erosion.
  • October 2003: The Russian authorities claimed the 1954 transfer of Crimea to Ukraine had only included the continental parts of Crimea ignoring the fact that the Tuzla Island had been administratively part of Crimea since 1941.
  • 23 October 2003: The Ukrainian Parliament issues a resolution “to eliminate a threat to the territorial integrity of Ukraine that appeared as a result of dam construction by the Russian Federation in the Strait of Kerch.”
  • 30-31 October 2003: Talks start between Ukraine and Russi leading to the suspension of the construction of the dam.
  • December 2003: Ukraine stations border guards on the island.
  • Following the conflict, the Crimean Parliament ordered the establishment of a new settlement on the island.
  • 6 September 2006: The Kerch city administration sabotaged the decree, claiming that it conflicts with the administrative-territorial composition of the city.
  • Spring 2014: Russia invades Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and later annexes it alongside the Tuzla Island.
  • According to international law, Crimea remains Ukrainian.
As of 6 November 2017, construction workers need to erect nine remaining pillars for the auto-road part of the bridge - four from the side of Crimea and five from the side of Taman. Photo:

As of 6 November 2017, construction workers need to erect nine remaining pillars for the auto-road part of the bridge –
four from the side of Crimea and five from the side of Taman. Photo:

Stalin’s Crimean Bridge

Historians say that the lack of convenient connection between Crimea and Russia began to concern the Soviet government in the beginning of the 1930s. Stalin even ordered the construction of a bridge from German contractors, but they did not have time to build it. For several years, while occupying Crimea, Hitler decided to build a bridge for his own army and even transported the necessary materials to Crimea. But this was not a large-scale undertaking: the Germans limited themselves to building a cable-car. The German army retreated from Crimea in 1944, and they left behind the building materials they had brought. By the summer of 1944 Soviet construction of a bridge had already begun.

As always, construction was rushed, firstly, because the bridge was needed to transport the army into southern Ukraine, and secondly, because the solemn unveiling of the bridge was planned for the 27th anniversary of the October Revolution. The bridge was raised up in 150 days. (It fell apart 107 days afterward.)

That much-suffering bridge was located north of the spot where the new one will be. It connected Crimea to the Chushka spit, over the shortest distance between Crimea and Russia. This is the current route of the ferry, the site of the present-day railway connection between Russia and Crimea.

Putin’s Kerch Bridge

Russian President Vladimir Putin is also rushing the construction of the bridge, though not as intensely as Stalin had. Car movement over the bridge is promised by the end of 2018, right in time for the presidential elections. I’m afraid that Putin will ride, with much pomp, right across this bridge to Crimea. Just because that’s what Stalin did.


Read also: Kerch bridge emblematic of new Russian imperialism, Kazarin says

In the media, there has been much lively discussion over whether the bridge-supports will stand on the shaky ground of the Kerch Straits. After all, as a number of experts have assured, the straits have multiple peculiarities which significantly complicate construction: a tectonic fault passes through the ground, with numerous ground volcanoes, under a thick, in some places 60-meters-thick, layer of silt. We will leave these questions to civil engineering experts.

The most important function of the bridge is this: to connect the image of contemporary Russia with the post-war might of the Soviet Union, to reconstruct the image of the victors over Nazism, to become part of an international community of its own ordering. When considered in this sense, Russia has approached the construction of the bridge on solid ground.

On the whole, construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge can be divided into 5 stages:

  1. Fabricate the image of Fascist-Enemies
  2. “Deliverance” of Crimea from the Fascists
  3. Laying of the foundation and raising the supports
  4. Gathering and setting-up of support structures
  5. Completion of a road for cars across the bridge. Then, maybe later, a railroad.

Unless Russia speeds up the plan, it is still, as of now (according to the official resource “Crimean Bridge”) on Stage 4, gathering and setting up the support structures.

The Kerch Strait Bridge built in 1944 stood for less time than it took to build. But that still gave it enough time to give birth to myths – such as the one that told how Joseph Stalin rode a train across the bridge to the Yalta Conference.

The Crimean Bridge which took 150 days to build fell apart after only 107.
The Yalta Conference (Crimea conference) was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the US, the UK, and the USSR, aiming to shape a post-war peace, however, its decisions divided the continent as the Cold War started later.

The Yalta Conference was unusually important for the USSR. This was Stalin’s moment of glory, in which British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin Roosevelt arrived in Yalta on “Stalin’s turf,” negotiated with him as equals, and together divided up the world.

This is what today’s leader of Russia lacks. We only need remember how in 2014 Official Moscow struggled to hide the refusal of European leaders to attend the Russian military parade in commemoration of the Day of Victory on 9 May. At that time the Russian TV station “Zvezda” reported on the Croatian President’s refusal to attend the parade with the sufficiently ironic headline “The President of Croatia has decided to travel to Moscow on 9 May.” Official Moscow simply does not want to be in isolation and instead desires the recognition which the USSR received after the war.

Among the resolutions of the Yalta Conference was the so-called “Declaration of Liberated Europe” which legitimated the political control of the USSR over the countries which it occupied. There in Yalta, the “Big Three” agreed to the creation of the United Nations, they determined the structure and foundation of the functions of the future organization, distributing permanent membership in the Security Council and bringing with it the right of veto, while they horse-traded over the number of Soviet Republics which would join the UN.

This GIF animation shows the process of “disassembly” of the bridge going backwards from October 2017 to the Summer of 2015. View a high-resolution image.
This GIF animation shows the process of “disassembly” of the bridge going backwards from October 2017 to February 2016.
Today’s Russia also dreams about reformatting the global order. Thus if Stalin rode across the Kerch Strait Bridge on a train, then Putin, clearly, would like to ride across in something from the Russian auto industry, for example, on a Lada “Kalina.” He couldn’t ride across in a Mercedes – the symbolism wouldn’t allow for it. And there are still no plans for a railroad.


Read more:

Translated by: Peter Koropey

Edited by: Yuri Zoria


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  1. Avatar veth says:

    Let Ukraine destroy the bridge one day before the Eternal Leader of Russia in his Zjigoeli will drive, driving along the paid for applauding Russians…………..

    1. Avatar Poposhenko says:

      …and which reaction do you expect then from Russia? I mean after you destroy the bridge? Will you be happy when Russia bombs you till kongdom comes? Will you then sing the ‘happy song’??

      1. Avatar veth says:


        1. Avatar Poposhenko says:

          Why does Russia needs Ukraines consent to build on its territory?? AND WHY DO YOU SCREAM SO MUCH?

          1. Avatar veth says:

            Because Crimea is Ukraine for ever. The occupation by Russia does not change the legal status. It will be blown up, don’t worry, it will be done!

          2. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            …support it if you can stand the echo, you armchair rambo.

          3. Avatar MichaelA says:

            crimea is ukrainian so what is the problem
            russia occupies it for a couple of years
            so what
            hitler occupied europe for longer
            it didnt mean he owned any of it

          4. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            That you compare Nazi-Germany with Russia talks for itself.

          5. Avatar rgb says:

            Crimea is Ukrainian territory!

          6. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            Cry me a river… Stop whining and accept the facts, you little girl.

          7. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            And the Crimean Tatars fully support that view.

          8. Avatar rgb says:

            I think I will believe the Crimea Tatars and Ukrainian people of their native land over the propaganda of the people who invaded Crimea, Ukraine.

          9. Avatar AmounRah says:

            Would you believe Ukrainians who want to join back up with Russia?
            Probably not, because it doesn’t fit your narrative.

            So do you have a problem with the results or the two respectable and international poll companies?

          10. Avatar Yovan Rubyc says:

            Never was never will be. It is that simple. In fact Ukraine itself was NEVER a country, but just border territory of Russia. That is what UKRAINE means in Russian. Russia GAVE them independence and Crimea Gould have been taken back as part of Russia, for it was GIVEN to them by Khrushchev as gift from him as a Ukraine born. At that time no one would even dare dream that Soviet Union would split up as it did. So it made no difference where Crimea belonged formally. Now it is back home where it belongs. Try to take it back and see what happens to you and your country.

          11. Avatar MichaelA says:

            actually it is russia that was never a country
            just a tatar town built on the ruins of a rus town which the tatars totally destroyed
            ukraine has history and culture
            russia got its history and culture from ukraine
            kruschev gave nothing
            the supreme soviet recognised that crimea had always been administered as part of what is now ukraine until 1919

          12. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            Why don’t you borrow a crowbar to open your purse and purchase a Russian-English dictionary or in your case, a dickshunari? Mind you, judging from your comments, that would not make much of a difference.

          13. Avatar Brent says:


          14. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            And? Already touched Veth’s skull? Enjoyed? AND IF YOU WISH I CAN YELL IT OUT FOR YOU:))

          15. Avatar MichaelA says:

            because crimea is not russian territory

          16. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            See the facts. Crimea is gone. Forever. Now stop whining.

          17. Avatar MichaelA says:

            see the facts
            crimea is ukrainian
            always will be
            now stop whining

          18. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            A parrott! A parrot!

          19. Avatar MichaelA says:

            dont bother me with your phobias
            just understand
            crimea is ukrainian
            always will be
            now stop whining

        2. Avatar Mick Servian says:

          Your late dude.
          Its Russia now and weren’t YOU saying it will never be build?

          1. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            I remember when he said ‘A fake from MosFilm’… And now he wants to destroy a ‘nonexisting’ bridge,

          2. Avatar MichaelA says:

            it still isnt
            they arent promising rail completion ever
            And “Car movement over the bridge is promised by the end of 2018”
            yeah sure

          3. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            You can say whatever you want.
            According to your bs Russia doesn’t even exist anymore. Lol
            It’s getting built. Half way there bro

          4. Avatar MichaelA says:

            of course russia exists
            you silly paranoid
            and yes i can say whatever i want
            because its true
            the bridge still isnt built
            probably never will be bro

          5. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            I know you can say whatever bullshit you want.
            Because you do. You are paid to bullshit.
            Everything Russia promises it delivers. Good business.

          6. Avatar MichaelA says:

            sure it does
            but the bridge isnt built
            and probably never will be
            just one of many russian failures
            they tried to take over eastern ukraine
            and failed
            russian boys too soft

          7. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            Oooh more thinking of soft boys.
            You a paedophile?

          8. Avatar MichaelA says:

            i am sorry for them
            soft russian boys are not up to modern warfare
            they are mutilated and killed just to maintain putins royal lifestyle

          9. Avatar Yovan Rubyc says:

            Idiot, stop your shrub.

          10. Avatar MichaelA says:

            why should i stop?
            do i frighten you when i tell the truth?
            the bridge isnt built
            and probably never will be
            just one of many russian failures
            they tried to take over eastern ukraine
            and failed
            russian boys too soft

      2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

        Popov, Savushkina snotbot.

      3. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

        Poor Poposhenko, “till kongdom comes”?? Did you not realize that King Kong was only a giant ape that was a product of science fiction intended for motion pictures? Of course you didn’t. Poor Poposhenko.

      4. Avatar Brent says:

        Veth is not a “Syrian hospital”….why would Russia bomb him?

        Is “kongdom comes” located on Skull Island? Imbecile…..

      5. Avatar AmounRah says:

        it’s veth, dude…..
        reading his/her posts is like listening to a crazy hobo chanting about jesus coming on street corners

      6. Avatar MichaelA says:

        how is russia going to bomb anyone?
        its airforce is primitive and failed in syria

        1. Avatar Poposhenko says:

          Muahahahahaha:))). Russia -Syria – Fail… Muahahahah. Really, you make my day. Today Assad visited Russia to thank Putin for destroying ISIS. And now back to sleep!

          1. Avatar MichaelA says:

            no assad visited kremlin to try and keep it in syria
            he knows russia will abandon him by next year
            putin and other russians have said so
            putin did not destroy isis
            he helps isis
            only kurds iraqis and their western allies destroy isis

          2. Avatar Poposhenko says:

            Are you Julian Roepke??

          3. Avatar MichaelA says:

            never heard of him
            i just pointed out there are plenty of reports of kremlin officials saying they will be out of syria by 2018
            assad is on his own
            russia never tried to destroy isis
            it is the west and kurds and iraqis who destroyed isis

    2. Avatar Mick Servian says:

      Go for it.
      I urge the Ukrainian authorities to do so. If US sponsors have given permission.
      See what will happen. We will. Lol

      1. Avatar MichaelA says:

        its got to be built first
        it was supposed to be fully completed a year ago
        now its “Car movement over the bridge is promised by the end of 2018” and no date for rail

        1. Avatar Mick Servian says:

          And besides what do you care?
          Not your country or people anymore.
          They voted.

          1. Avatar MichaelA says:

            its not your country or people
            crimea never voted to leave ukraine
            the bridge still hasnt been built
            now they promise over a year away

          2. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            Im sorry. But they voted.
            And you are telling me a Russian majority voted to stay in Ukraine?
            Even European politicians admit it.
            But you keep worrying about the bridge. Lol

          3. Avatar MichaelA says:

            no they didnt vote
            sorry but a fake poll with fsb everywhere is not a vote
            of course russian majority wanted to stay in ukraine
            what do you think happened in donbass?
            a russian majority fought to stay in ukraine
            ha ha european politicians
            sure the six who took a bribe to visit crimeea
            im not worried about the bridge
            you are
            you keep trying to tell everyone that its built
            but it isnt built

          4. Avatar Mick Servian says:


          5. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            Im worried about the bridge?
            But you mentioned it first. You keep talking about it.

          6. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            How do you know it’s not my people?

          7. Avatar MichaelA says:

            because youre a serb who cant cope with the fact that serbia is looking westward
            and doesnt want to follow the fascists anymore
            you said it yourself

          8. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            How do you know im Serbian?
            You always make shit up as u go along? Oh yeah u do.
            Check your facts.
            75% of Serbians don’t want to be in the EU anymore.
            You listen to your fellow troll Jelena Milic too much.

          9. Avatar MichaelA says:

            you admitted it last year
            you dill
            you couldnt handle the fact that most serbians want to join the eu

          10. Avatar Mick Servian says:

            First of calling Russia fascist shows a lack of historical knowledge.
            Second are you saying Serbia wants to follow fascist Croatia into the EU after Jasenovac?
            You’re an ignoramus

  2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Puck Futin and his fake bridges.