DISINFO: Crimea has never been Ukraine, it returned to Russia on a legal referendum
Crimea made its own choice in 2014 and returned home legally. Crimea has never been Ukraine. The voting on the peninsula on March 16, 2014, only implemented the decision of the referendum on January 20, 1991.
Crimea is an internationally recognised part of Ukraine. Іn 1997, by signing the Friendship Agreement with Ukraine, Russia also recognised that Crimea belongs to Ukraine.
On the 1991 Crimea sovereignty referendum, voters were asked whether they wanted to re-establish the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. 94% of voters supported the proposal, and the Supreme Council of Ukrainian SSR established the autonomous Crimean Republic within the territory of Ukraine. After Ukraine adopted a new constitution in 1996, Crimea saved its autonomy. Crimea has its own parliament and government.
No international body recognises the so-called referendum in Crimea. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”, stating 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 Council on Foreign Relations lists one key legal reason for the illegitimacy of the Crimean referendum: Changes to the territory of Ukraine must be approved by a referendum of all Ukrainian people. The Cambridge International Law Journal states that there are a variety of reasons when secession might be legal: (1) if the people concerned are subject to decolonization; (2) if it is envisaged by the legislation of the parent state; (3) if a territory inhabited by a certain people is occupied or annexed after 1945; (4) the secessionist constitute a "people"; (5) the parent state flagrantly violate human rights; (6) no other effective remedies under national or international law may exist if any of the above-mentioned conditions are met. However, in the case of Ukraine and Crimea, none of these conditions were met.
The European Union does not recognise and continues to strongly condemn this violation of international law, which remains a challenge to the international security order. In response to the illegal annexation of Crimea, the EU has imposed restrictive measures against the Russian Federation. In June 2020, the European Council decided to renew the sanctions introduced in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation until 23 June 2021.