Vladimir Putin drives Mercedes over Crimea bridge weeks after explosion
Vladimir Putin: Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of carrying out the strike on the bridge, which took place a day after his 70th birthday.
Russian president Vladimir Putin visited the Crimea bridge which was struck by a truck bomb attack in October. The Russian president drove a Mercedes across Kerch Bridge, which links occupied Crimea to mainland Russia, and was left seriously damaged after the blast on 8 October.
Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of carrying out the strike on the bridge, which took place a day after his 70th birthday. The explosion wrecked one section of the road bridge temporarily halting traffic across the Kerch Strait.
Following the blast, Russia carried out a series of deadly missile strikes targeting Ukrainian cities in retaliation. The damage signified a blow to Russia as the Kerch Bridge provides a supply route for Russian forces in Ukraine and is the only direct link between the transport network of Russia and the Crimean Peninsula.
Like other Western automakers, Mercedes halted sales of vehicles to Russia and stopped production at its assembly plant near Moscow after the start of Russia's invasion in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Vladimir Putin did not try to make a political point by driving the Mercedes and not a Russian-made Auris sedan, saying the president just used the car that was available.
While driving, Vladimir Putin discussed the repairs of the Crimean Bridge with Marat Khusnullin, a deputy prime minister in charge of the project, an exchange that was broadcast by Russian television.
The president also spoke to workers involved in restoring the bridge.