Disinfo: Crimea joined Russia in full accordance with international law


Crimea became part of Russia through the democratic choice of its people and in accordance with international law.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the annexation of Crimea claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum as well as a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that claims Euromaidan was a coup.

No international body recognises the so-called referendum held on the 16th of March 2014. On the 27th of February 2014, when the so-called referendum 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. A year later Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

Following the covert invasion of “little green men,” power in Crimea was vested in a makeshift executive headed by Sergey Aksenov. The new Crimean regime conducted the referendum hastily and at gunpoint, barred impartial observers from entering the peninsula, and instead invited dozens of fringe politicians and activists to “monitor” the procedure, most of them far-right Kremlin loyalists.

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, recognised on 17 April 2015 that "our soldiers were deployed in Crimea to help the inhabitants express their opinion." Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

Six years after the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the EU remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.


  • Reported in: Issue 227
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/01/2021
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: illegal annexation, Manipulated elections/referendum, 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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Ukraine, not Russia, is the perpetrator of human rights abuses in Crimea

While expressing concerns over the Crimean Tatars’ fate, Kyiv is basically trying to suffocate Crimea by water blockade of the peninsula.

As an inalienable part of Russia, Crimea fully honours the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. Kyiv’s accusations regarding the situation with ethnic minorities in Russia’s Crimea are unfounded. Over the past six years, Russia has been actively contributing to enhancing social and economic, cultural and religious rights of ethnic minorities living in Crimea. The efforts of Russia’s authorities on strengthening inter-ethnic peace and harmony are evident for any unbiased observer.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative concerning the human rights situation in Crimea.

As the occupying power, Russia has the legal obligation, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure that the civilian population in Crimea has access to basic necessities such as food, drinking water, and medical services (see Part III, Section III). The Convention's applicability in the case of Crimea has been affirmed by the UN Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

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