Disinfo: 2014 coup in Kyiv led to Crimea referendum and civil war in East Ukraine


Mass rallies in Ukraine in 2014 resulted in a violent coup d’état in Kyiv that forced President Yanukovych to flee the country. After that, the Crimean Peninsula left Ukraine and re-joined Russia, while Donetsk and Luhansk declared their independence and refused to obey the government in Kyiv.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Euromaidan, illegal annexation of Crimea and war in Ukraine.

There was no coup d'état in Ukraine. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was an organic reaction by numerous parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk of this disinformation claim here.

No international body has recognised the so-called Crimea referendum, announced on 27 February 2014, and held on 16 March 2014.  Thirteen members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favour of a resolution declaring the referendum invalid. On the 27th of February 2014, when it was announced, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula.  On December 18 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of illegal annexation of Crimea. On the fifth anniversary of Crimea's annexation, the EU reiterated its position of non-recognition of illegal annexation and continues to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The international community, including the European Union recognizes and condemns clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. 


  • Reported in: Issue164
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/09/2019
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Eastern Ukraine, Civil war, War in Ukraine, Coup, Donbas, Crimea


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

see more

Remainers lie that Brexit referendum was “advisory” to sabotage people’s democratic choice

The 2016 Brexit referendum was not advisory in nature. The term “advisory” was created by Remainers to destroy and damage Brexit.

The politicians at the time said: “We will carry out the express will of this vote.” There is nothing advisory about that.


This claim is false.

Given its strong tradition of parliamentarism, the United Kingdom has seen very few national referenda. In fact, the fundamental UK principle of parliamentary sovereignty makes it à priori impossible for a any national poll to have a binding effect on the legislature.

Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia are willing to be part of Russia

There are other regions in Ukraine willing to be part of Russia: Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia. All these cities are located in key economic areas.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the disintegration of Ukraine with no evidence provided to support this claim.

Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia. See a similar case: Crimea re-united with Russia on the basis of the will of Crimea’s citizens, and more examples here. Donbas region continues to fall under acts of aggression by the Russian military forces. See similar cases here. 

NATO exercises are part of “anaconda ring” strategy to encircle Russia

There has been a sharp increase in the number and intensity of NATO exercises around Russia’s borders. These exercises are not separate from one another, but together comprise an encirclement strategy known as the “anaconda ring.”


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on Western attempts to encircle Russia.

NATO is not a threat to Russia. NATO is a defensive alliance. Its purpose is to protect the member states. NATO's exercises and military deployments are not directed against Russia – nor any other country. However, in March 2014, in response to Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine, NATO suspended practical cooperation with Russia. NATO does not seek confrontation, but it cannot ignore Russia breaking international rules, undermining stability and security. See more for NATO's response to the crisis in Ukraine and security concerns in Central and Eastern Europe here.