MOSCOW Construction of a bridge to connect mainland Russia with Crimea is on schedule, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"The Crimea bridge is being built on schedule and even slightly ahead of it," Putin said during an annual question and answer session with Russians.
The construction of the 19-kilometre (12-mile) road-and-rail bridge across the Kerch Strait is being overseen by Stroygazmontazh, a company controlled by Arkady Rotenberg, Putin's former judo sparring partner.
The road segment is meant to be operational by the end of next year.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
(Reporting by Moscow newsroom; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn)