Russian government awards construction of $3 billion bridge to Crimea to Putin ally

The Russian government has awarded the contract for the construction of a $3 billion bridge to Crimea to a longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin.

In a decree published online Friday, the government said that a company owned by Arkady Rotenberg would be given the commission to build a bridge linking Crimea — the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in March — to mainland Russia.

Costs for the bridge cannot exceed 212 billion rubles ($3 billion) and it must be completed by December 2018. The contract was given to Rotenberg without a public tender, which is usual for government-commissioned projects in Russia.

Rotenberg , a childhood friend and longtime judo partner of Putin's, is on the European Union and U.S. sanctions lists.