Disinfo: Crimea rejoined Russia after a democratic referendum

Summary

Crimea rejoined Russia after a democratic referendum.

In March 2014, after a good 22 years in the independent Ukraine, Crimea rejoined Russia after the population of the peninsula had voted for it by a majority in a referendum. The reason for the referendum was the nationalist coup d’état in Kyiv.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the annexation of Crimea claiming that Crimean citizens chose to re-join Russia through a legal referendum.

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

The oft-cited figure of 97% has been contested by the Kremlin’s own Human Rights Council, which estimated that only between 30% and 50% of Crimeans took part in the referendum, of which some 50-60% favoured secession.

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.

Also, there was no nationalist coup d’état in Kyiv in 2014, this is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the Euromaidan.

The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction of 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 here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 155
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 21/06/2019
  • Outlet language(s) German
  • Country: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Manipulated elections/referendum, Crimea, Referendum, Euromaidan, Coup, War in Ukraine
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British MP tells Ukraine to forget about Crimea

A British Conservative MP told Ukraine to forget about Crimea. In the future, Ukraine will have to accept the loss of the Crimean peninsula, which in 2014 joined the Russian Federation as a result of the will of the Crimean people, Richard Belfell, a member of the Conservative Party at the British Parliament, told journalists. Speaking about how it would be possible to solve once and for all the problem of Russian ownership of Crimea, the MP said that a referendum repeated under UN supervision may be a solution. Belfell said that he was there 10 or 15 years ago, when it was part of Ukraine, and almost everyone that he met there at the time complained that the peninsula belonged to Ukraine and that he didn’t think that a desire to be part of the country had ever been present in Crimea.

Disproof

These allegations are false. There is no member of the British Parliament called Richard Belfell, or any similar name. A Google search of the name produces only five results, all of them reproducing the original story in Spanish. The whole story is invented.

This is part of a recurrent Russian narrative to boost the legitimacy of the illegal seizure of Crimea by the Russian Federation. You can see other examples of disinformation on this topic, such as that the ‘reunification’ was made in compliance with international law, the alleged legality and democratic character of the referendum, that this was forced by a coup in Kiev, that it saved Crimea from becoming a US colony, the recognition of the annexation by the UN or countries like Hungary, or its final acceptance by the EU.

MH17: Political games instead of a real investigation

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team presents the same old accusations. The campaign is on-going, Russia and the Donetsk Peoples’ Republic were found guilty by mainstream media and Western diplomats a long time ago and the JIT is currently attempting to construct the narrative surrounding the guilty, rather than prove it. Also, is it really a coincidence that the JIT’s briefing took place on the day before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Direct Line?

Disproof

One of the multiple disinformation narratives on the downing of the MH17 denying Russia's responsibility. 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 the 24th of May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion 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.

On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, the Dutch Public Persecution service will persecute Igor Vsevolodovich GIRKIN, Sergey Nikolayevich DUBINSKIY, Oleg Yuldashevich PULATOV and Leonid Volodymyrovych KHARCHENKO for causing the crash of the MH17 and murdering of 289 persons on board. The Public Prosecution Service alleges the four cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. For that reason they can also be held jointly accountable for downing flight MH17.

USA promised Russia that there will be no NATO expansion to the East

The USA promised Russia that there will be no NATO expansion to the East. US Secretary of State, James Baker, had agreed with Gorbachev in 1990 in his negotiations on German reunification that there would be no expansion of NATO beyond the then eastern borders of the GDR. “Baker noted this oral promise in a note: “End result: Unified Ger. anchored* in a changed (polit.) NATO -* whose jurisdiction. would not move* eastwards!”

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation that NATO had promised that the Alliance would not expand to the East and that NATO is de facto aggressive. NATO allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO or the US. Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus' and do not constitute formal NATO agreements. Moreover, at the time of the alleged promise, the Warsaw Pact still existed. Its members did not agree on its dissolution until 1991. This was confirmed by Mikhail Gorbachev himself in an interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines:

"The topic of 'NATO expansion' was not discussed at all, and it wasn't brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility. Not a single Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991. Western leaders didn't bring it up either".

See more disinformation cases on NATO.