Disinfo: EU sanctions exist because of the conflict in Donbas and Crimea joining Russia

Summary

The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 against the subsequent accession of Crimea to Russia and the armed conflict in Donbas.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Crimea willingly joining Russia and portraying the war in Donbas as an internal armed conflict.

The war in Eastern Ukraine is a well-documented act of ongoing aggression by Russian armed forces, since February 2014.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated that "the information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation."

This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February 2014 when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government. In turn, the active phase of the Donbas war was triggered with the 12 April 2014 assault on the city of Slovyansk, led by Russian intelligence officer Igor Girkin. By September that year, Russia had sent up to 15,000 regular troops into the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015.

Russian troops obliged the parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was illegitimate under international law, and then illegally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA, and no international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014 and held on 16 March 2014.

After the 2020 EU-Ukraine Summit, HR/VP Josep Borrell said: "We fully support the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine. We will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and we call on the full implementation of the Minsk agreements."

Read similar cases claiming that "The DNR and LNR gained independence from Ukraine", and that there is no evidence of Russian presence in Ukraine, that rumours about Russian military presence in Donbas come from linguistic misunderstanding, or that Crimean people have expressed their desire to rejoin Russia and that Crimea never belonged to Ukraine and that Russia has never participated in the Ukrainian crisis.

Disclaimer

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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Crimea reunited with Russia after a referendum and Russia is not part of the conflict in Ukraine

Relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated due to the situation in Ukraine and around Crimea, which was reunited with Russia after a referendum on the peninsula. Moscow was accused of interfering and sanctions against it were imposed. Russia retaliated, embarking on a course of import substitution. Also, the authorities have repeatedly noted that it is counterproductive to talk with Moscow in the language of sanctions. Russia has repeatedly stressed that it does not participate in the conflict in Ukraine and is not a subject of the Minsk settlement agreements.

Disproof

Several recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, the war in Ukraine, and the ineffectiveness of sanctions against Russia.

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 war in Ukraine started because the parliament did not want to vote for the law on languages

On 31 March 2014, the head of the Donetsk Oblast Council, Andriy Shishatskyi asked the Verkhovna Rada to vote for a law on a referendum and a law on languages. But he was ignored. This is the reason the war started. That is why Ukraine is in a state of war. As a result of the coup, someone came to power and did everything to make Ukraine lose Donbas.

Disproof

This is an example of a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the war in Ukraine.

The war in Donbas did not start because of any actions, or lack thereof, by Ukraine's parliament. It is a well-documented act of aggression by Russian armed forces.