DISINFO: Moscow did not violate international law when reunifying Crimea with Russia
  • Outlet: sputnik-abkhazia.ru (archived)*
  • Date of publication: March 13, 2021
  • Article language(s): Russian
  • Reported in: Issue 235
  • Countries / regions discussed: Ukraine, Russia
illegal annexation Crimea International Law UN

DISINFO: Moscow did not violate international law when reunifying Crimea with Russia


Moscow has been repeatedly accused of violating international law during the reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia since 2014. Statements about "Russian aggression" and "annexation of Crimea'' are still being heard in Ukraine and in Western countries. The Ukrainian authorities continue to ignore the decisions of the referenda in Crimea.

Did Russia violate acts of international law, as well as, Russian-Ukrainian treaties when reunifying Crimea with it? Definitely not.

Russian troops were on the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol legally - under an agreement with the Ukrainian authorities. As for the legal framework, Russia had reason to worry about the safety of both its military personnel and its citizens.

Russia did not violate the Helsinki declaration either, as Russia’s accusers refer to in their arguments.

As for the statement of the UN General Assembly of 2014, which referred to the fact that Russia allegedly violated the UN Charter in the reunification process, which guarantees the territorial integrity of Ukraine, it should be noted that the UN Charter requires its members to refrain from the threat or use of force against territorial inviolability or the political independence of the state. And Russia, in 2014, did not carry out any aggression against the inviolability of Ukraine.


Several recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives are at play here; about the illegal annexation of Crimea, claiming that it voted to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum and that there was no aggression with the invasion of military forces from Russia.

Crimea is an internationally recognised part of Ukraine. Іn 1997, by signing the Friendship Agreement with Ukraine, Russia also recognised that Crimea belongs to Ukraine.

The so-called referendum that was organised hastily and at gunpoint following the covert invasion of “little green men” and barring impartial observers from entering the peninsula can hardly be called "reunification in strict accordance with all the norms of international law".

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.

Ukrainian authorities reported almost in real-time the identification and details of the Russian military forces invading Crimea.

Even 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 (and was proud of) that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

The European Union does not recognise and continues to strongly condemn this violation of international law, which remains a challenge to the international security order. In response to the illegal annexation of Crimea, the EU has imposed restrictive measures against the Russian Federation. In June 2020, the European Council decided to renew the sanctions introduced in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation until 23 June 2021.

Check previous disinformation narratives in our database alleging that the EU has accepted Crimea's incorporation into Russia and that the Crimean people chose to be with Russia through the democratic procedure; or that annexing of Crimea didn’t really happen, it was a reunification; or that Crimea never belonged to Ukraine; or that it is impossible to recognize the annexation of Crimea because it never happened; or that Crimea’s reunification with Russia was legal; or that Crimea is a Russian sovereign region.


Related disinfo cases


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.

    Your opinion matters!

    Data Protection Information *

      Subscribe to the Disinfo Review

      Your weekly update on pro-Kremlin disinformation

      Data Protection Information *

      The Disinformation Review is sent through Mailchimp.com. See Mailchimp’s privacy policy and find out more on how EEAS protects your personal data.