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In Symbolic Move, Ukraine's Zelenskiy Opens Rebuilt Bridge In War-Torn East

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (3rd left) visits a section of the restored bridge in the settlement of Stanytsya Luhanska on November 20.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a symbolic move that highlights efforts to rebuild Ukraine's war-torn east, has reopened a bridge in the Luhansk region that has sat in ruins the past four years.

Zelenskiy wrote on Facebook late on November 20 that the bridge will be limited in function for several days before traffic will be fully restored.

The bridge over the Siverskiy Donets river in the town of Stanytsya Luhanska, where a Kremlin-backed separatist checkpoint is located, was destroyed during clashes between the separatists and Ukraine's armed forces in 2015.

Since the bridge's destruction, local residents have been unable to visit relatives and friends and get food and medical supplies from the other side.

"I want to counter any possible manipulations right away -- tanks will not be able to pass over the bridge as it is too narrow. But an ambulance can easily pass over it. It is also possible to transport food via the bridge and it won't be difficult to walk from one side to another," Zelenskiy wrote.

Bridge repairs started in early September after demining work around the bridge had been finished.

The opening comes a week after Kyiv and the separatists said they had completed a pullback of troops and weapons from a third frontline area in eastern Ukraine.

The move is one of a series of confidence-building measures that could pave the way for a four-way summit aimed at ending the conflict in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.

Known as the Normandy format, the next four-way talks between Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany are scheduled to be held in Paris on December 9.

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