Vladimir Putin has been beaten to being the first to cross a controversial new bridge, by a cat.

The multi-billion dollar bridge which stretches for 12-miles links Russia's Krasnodar region to the Crimea, a former region of Ukraine which Russia annexed from their neighbours in 2014 at the height of the conflict between the two nations.

Construction of the bridge began in 2015 and Putin would have been hoping to be the first person to make the journey - but it was a local cat that managed to make the trek a whole day before the Russian president.

Mostik the cat has become something of an internet celebrity in Russia since the construction of the bridge started and even has an Instagram account with more than 38,000 followers.

On Tuesday, 'Mostik' posted a picture of himself preparing to cross the bridge by foot.

The caption reads:

First to run the 19 kilometers [12 miles]. Everything is ready!

Tomorrow I am ceremonially opening the bridge with the builders and the president.

And starting May 16th you can come yourselves.

Mostik, which is the Russian diminutive word for bridge, is something of an unofficial mascot for the controversial structure, which is now the longest bridge in Europe.

Images of him hanging out on the bridge and with construction workers regularly get thousands of likes on Instagram.

We can't begrudge an innocent cat for becoming a symbol of an otherwise problematic project which Putin hailed as a "historic" triumph.

Russia has had plans to connect themselves with the Crimea for decades dating back to the Soviet Union era and even later to imperial times.

Putin made no mention of the bloody conflict with Ukraine nor the recent history of the Crimea.

The opening of the bridge was condemned by Ukraine's foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin and The British Foreign Office.

Work on the bridge will continue until next year.

HT Newsweek

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