Disinfo: Crimea chose to be part of Russia


Crimea became part of Russia, once again, after the March 2014 referendum, with 96,77 percent of the Crimean electorate and 95.6 percent of Sevastopol’s population voting in favour of joining Russia. This came after the toppling of the regime in Ukraine, in February 2014.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

No international body has recognised the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014, and held on 16 March 2014.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has stated that “the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February 2014 when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government".

On 27 March 2014 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it 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 17 December 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea.

The EU's policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol includes a set of restrictive measures against entities and individuals responsible for actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity. In March 2019 on the fifth anniversary of Crimea's annexation, the EU reiterated its position of non-recognition of illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. EU continues to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

For similar cases, see here, here and here.


  • Reported in: Issue 170
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 22/10/2019
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: 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.

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The Church of Greece only recognised the Church of Ukraine because it is dependent on Western financial support

The Church of Greece’s decision to recognise the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is not a surprise. What else could have been expected from a church that is entirely under the control of the Greek government? Priests in Greece are government officials. And the Church of Greece is literally completely dependent of Western financial and political support. The fact that it received a large number of visits from US officials and the number of “informal” conversations between Ambassador Pyatt and Greek leaders says a lot.





This is a conspiracy theory aimed at undermining support for the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), presented without any evidence. Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets have frequently and consistently attacked the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Church. There is no factual evidence to suggest that Western support for the Church of Greece forced its decision to recognise the UOC.

In October 2019, the Greek Orthodox Church decided to recognise the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, following the decision by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The latter delivered the so-called tomos of autocephaly to the UOC in January 2019. For more information on the tomos, see here.

The Russian army doesn’t deliberately target civilians, unlike the US

Despite having lost soldiers in Syria and the fact that Turkey downed a Russian airplane and caused the death of its pilot, Russia didn’t take any inappropriate retaliation measures. It didn’t kill civilians on purpose, as it is known that the US did.


Deliberate targeting of civilians by the Russian air forces has been a permanent concern for human rights groups and observers of the Syrian conflict since the beginning of its intervention in the country in 2015. Both Syrian and especially Russian armed forces have been repeatedly accused of purposefully attacking schools, rescue workers and hospitals by Amnesty International, Western governments or the United Nations in different moments of the war.

Bombing of hospitals in Syria have been a recurrent event during the armed conflict, which MSF attributed to Russia in 2017. Moscow flatly denied any responsibility, trying to shift blame on the US air forces without presenting any evidence. In June 2019, doctors in the rebel-held area of Idlib stopped sharing coordinates of medical facilities with the UN after suspicions that they were being deliberately targeted by pro-Bashar Al Assad and Russian forces in what many observers considered a coordinated strategy. On October 13, 2019, The New York Times published an article analysing radio recordings linking Russian pilots to the purposeful bombing of four Syrian hospitals in May 5 and 6, 2019.

Catalan leaders have recognized Crimea

Catalan leaders have recognized Crimea and said they consider it a part of Russia


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative aiming to legitimize the illegal annexation of Crimea. 

The disinformation message repeats ungrounded claims in the pro-Kremlin which appeared in 2016, alleging that Crimea is soon to be recognized by independent Catalonia. See a case form 2016 here.