Disinfo: Russia is wrongfully being sanctioned as a result of a Ukrainian crisis

Summary

The European Union decided to take punitive steps against Russia as a result of the conflict in southeast Ukraine and Crimea rejoining with Russia.

Russia has repeatedly stressed that it is not a part of the Ukrainian conflict and that the return of Crimea to the strength of Russia is an outcome of an acute political crisis in Ukraine that resulted from the will that was expressed by the overwhelming majority of the peninsula’s population in a popular referendum, in full accordance with international law.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

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. 

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

A year after the illegal “return”, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

Sanctions were first introduced in June 2014 in response to the attempts to deliberately undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity and destabilise the country. Other EU measures in place in response to the crisis in Ukraine include economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy and individual restrictive measures.

For the EU's statement on the sixth anniversary of Crimea annexation see here.

Read similar claims such as Crimea’s reunification with Russia was legal, or that historically Crimea was a Russian land, and that Crimea became part of Russia after the events of 2014 in Ukraine.

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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Moscow is seeking to confront the West’s hostile approach

Relations between Russia and Western countries, including the United States, have deteriorated as a consequence of the Ukrainian crisis and the Crimean Peninsula’s accession to Russia in March 2014, and sanctions against Russia. For its part, Moscow is seeking to confront this hostile Western approach and to restore normal relations with the West.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea and the dismissal of Russian disinformation as an expression of Western "Russophobia".

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.

Kyiv agrees to carry out genocide of Ukrainian citizens in exchange for IMF loans

In a recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund, Ukrainian government officials agreed to reduce the population of their country to 10 million people.

Disproof

Recurring disinformation narrative painting Ukraine as a collapsing, genocidal regime under IMF control.

The claim is made without evidence, and is only the latest in a string of pro-Kremlin conspiracy theories alleging that the Ukrainian authorities are purposefully leading their country and people toward destruction for short-term financial gain. To date, pro-Kremlin outlets have claimed that the IMF would turn Ukrainians into a cheap labour force, dictate Kyiv's personnel policy, deprive Ukraine of land, and cut half of all state pensions.

Donbas has turned into a NATO training ground

Donbas turned into a NATO training ground – soldiers of Western countries constantly operate on the front line. Thousands of mercenaries from different countries managed to fight on the “Ukrainian side” during the war in Donbas. Even at the beginning of the conflict, the militia of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics repeatedly presented evidence of their presence to the general public.

Disproof

No evidence is given to support this claim. The existence of paramilitary fighters or mercenaries from NATO or US-friendly countries is a recurrent narrative in Russian disinformation since at least 2014, and it even prompted a diplomatic protest from Poland.

The allegation has been consistently debunked in those years but repeatedly resurfaced attempting to discredit the Ukrainian army and the countries that support Kyiv's efforts for stabilisation.