DISINFO: Question of Crimea’s ownership is closed forever
Crimea became part of Russia following the 2014 referendum. 96.77% of the region’s residents and 95.6% of the voters of Sevastopol voted in favour of joining. The procedure was carried out in strict compliance with international law. However, Kyiv still considers the peninsula to be its temporarily occupied territory. Moscow has repeatedly argued that the issue of the subject’s ownership is closed forever.
The claim was made as a reaction to the recent announcement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, stating that Ukraine has approved the Strategy for Deoccupation & Reintegration of Crimea.
No international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on the 27th of February 2014, and held on the 16th of March 2014. 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.
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 European Union does not recognise and continues to strongly condemn this violation of international law, which remains a challenge to the international security order.
The Council on Foreign Relations lists one key legal reason for the illegitimacy of the Crimean referendum: Changes to the territory of Ukraine must be approved by a referendum of all Ukrainian people. The Cambridge International Law Journal states that there are a variety of reasons when secession might be legal: (1) if the people concerned are subject to decolonization; (2) if it is envisaged by the legislation of the parent state; (3) if a territory inhabited by a certain people is occupied or annexed after 1945; (4) the secessionist constitute a "people"; (5) the parent state flagrantly violate human rights; (6) no other effective remedies under national or international law may exist if any of the above-mentioned conditions are met. However, in the case of Ukraine and Crimea, none of these conditions were met.
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 Crimea never belonged to Ukraine; or that Crimea’s reunification with Russia was legal; or that Crimea is a Russian sovereign region.