Disinfo: Crimea reconnected with Russia in referendum to avoid NATO troops there


On 18 March 2014, the referendum in Crimea sealed the peninsula’s connection to Russia, after the latter sent its troops. In fact, Moscow could not conceive that this peninsula, strategic and historically Russian, was going to become Western, or that NATO would set up troops there.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the annexation of Crimea, claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin Russia through a legal democratic referendum.

No international body recognizes the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014, and held on 16 March 2014. For the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea's annexation, see here.

A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

The NATO expansion is also a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative. NATO does not "expand" in the imperialistic sense described by the Kremlin leadership and Russian state media, but instead considers the applications of candidate countries that want to join the defensive alliance of their own national will.


  • Reported in: Issue 156
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 28/06/2019
  • Language/target audience: French
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: West, EU/NATO enlargement, War in Ukraine, NATO, Referendum, Crimea, Ukrainian statehood


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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MH17 investigation brought no results, Malaysia was sidelined

Different parties have accused each other of downing flight MH17 and still today, 5 years later, there are no satisfactory investigation results. Even Malaysia was dismissed from the undeniably political investigation, which seems to be concentrated on trying to pin it on Russia.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the downing of the MH17.

The Malaysia's Prosecutor's office cooperated in the investigation conducted by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Speaking at the press-conference of the JIT on June 19, 2019 the deputy Prosecutor general of Malaysia Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria reiterated Malaysia's commitment to the JIT in seeking justice for the victims, and stated that the JIT findings were based on extensive investigation and legal research. [See at 57:30 - 58:14] 

Amid the protests Georgians physically attacked two Russian tourists

Two Russian tourists were so badly beaten and bloodied in Hypermarket Carrefour that it was impossible to identify their gender. Witnesses were happy about the fact. This is the “free new generation” protesting in the streets.


This claim is false and consistent with pro-Kremlin narratives portraying the public protests against Gavrilov's visit to Georgia as Russophobic.

Myth Detector reached out to the Georgian Interior Ministry and the Carrefour. Neither the Interior Ministry nor Carrefour have confirmed the reports about Russian citizens being physically assaulted at the supermarket. 

Investigation of MH17 is politically motivated and its sole purpose is to tarnish Russia

Russia repeatedly proposed the inclusion of Russian specialists in the MH17 investigation, submitted various data and materials, including the results of the investigation conducted by “Almaz-Antey”. However, all Russian initiatives were ignored, while Ukraine was treated with indulgence. The whole investigation into the case of the Malaysian Boeing is politically motivated. The investigation has the sole purpose of tarnishing Russia. 


The claims by Buk manufacturer Almaz-Antey were debunked already in 2015 by Bellingcat. The evidence conducted by the Russian military company Almaz-Antey is only a small sample of misleading claims and conspiracy theories  advanced by Moscow since 2015, many of which have contradicted one another. See previous debunking of these claims herehere, and here.

The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. On 28 September 2016, the JIT announced that Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by a BUK TELAR missile system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the town of Pervomaiskyi in Eastern Ukraine, from where the missile was launched. After firing, the system - with 1 missing missile - went back to the Russian Federation. On 24 May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion that the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.