Disinfo: Crimea returned to Russia after a referendum


Crimea returned to Russia after a referendum on the peninsula.


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

Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. In 2014, Russian troops obliged the parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was illegitimate under international law, and then formally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA (see the resolution A/RES/68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine).

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

Following the covert invasion by “little green men,” the referendum in Crimea was conducted hastily and at gunpointbarring impartial observers from entering the peninsula.

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 European Union does not recognise Crimea's annexation and continues to condemn it as a violation of international law. EU sanctions continue to be in place against Russia as a consequence for the annexation. For the EU statement on the sixth anniversary of Crimea annexation see here.


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 thieves of history are pushing the narrative that Churchill saved Europe

The usual narrative of the West is that Winston Churchill saved Europe (and the world) during World War II, but the West remains silent about what exactly he saved us from. The USSR and Eastern Europe are barely mentioned and only along propaganda lines. The West does not talk about the human and the material cost that the Soviet Union bore during World War II.


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative accusing the West of Russophobic historical revisionism about the Soviet Union’s legacy during World War II which has gained traction around Victory Day.

Historians in the Western tradition recognise Winston Churchill as one of the key leaders who contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II. The predominant interpretation suggests that one of his most important legacies was inspiring and leading the British nation to continue the fight against Hitler after virtually all of Europe had ceased organised resistance. Additionally, historians also credit him with improving political and military planning as well as cementing the “Big Three” Alliance between Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. While the statement in this article is an exaggeration of this interpretation, the underlying narrative about the role of Churchill is an evidence-based historical claim.

The US spreads propaganda about 5G and vaccines

China owns 5G technology, and the United States does not. For this reason, the US has an interest in turning people against 5G through propaganda about the harmful effects of 5G. On the other hand, vaccines ensure that biological weapons containing a range of deadly diseases cannot be used effectively against a population. With dozens of biological laboratories encircling Russia, the United States clearly has an interest in spreading the anti-vaxxer movement.


Recurring pro-Kremlin conspiracy narrative about propaganda from the United States about technology and vaccines.

The claim that a country owns or does not own 5G is misleading and simplistic. Huawei, a Chinese company, is a global leader in 5G networking equipment. Due to the national security risks allegedly associated with 5G technology, the US has devised the National Strategy to Secure 5G which outlines a plan for the “development, deployment, and management of secure and reliable 5G communications infrastructure worldwide.” In order to evade the technological dependence on Huawei 5G technology, the White House has suggested that the US companies Microsoft, Dell and AT&T, together with Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia, will be involved in the development of the 5G infrastructure in the US.

The US wants to train Serbia in Russophobia

The United States is trying to make Serbians dislike Russia in every way possible. Washington decided to spend 220,000 USD to retrain Serbian media in a response to Moscow’s aid for Belgrade in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The “retraining” includes debates, hackathons, fight against “disinformation” and work with journalists.


A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the US presence in Europe aiming to encourage Russophobia.

The training programme refers to the US Embassy in Serbia’s Media Training & Development Funding Opportunity 2020. The objective of the programme is “to fund individual projects that support the strengthening of the Serbian press and ensure the free flow of accurate information to keep Serbia’s citizens informed.” Applicants are invited to submit proposals along with six themes: journalism training and education, managing news outlets, expanding public debate, diversity of views, countering disinformation, and media freedom/role of the free press in a democracy.