Disinfo: Russian relations with the West went bad after the return of Crimea


Since Crimea was returned to Russia in March 2014, relations between Russia and Western countries, including the United States, deteriorated and sanctions were imposed on Russia.


Crimea was not "returned" to Russia, it was illegally annexed in a military operation. A 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, with Russian troops controlling the area, a referendum was hastily organised, illegitimate under international law. The peninsula was illegally annexed and brought under Russian territorial control. 

No international body recognises the so-called referendum. 

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. The sanctions were renewed on 10 September 2020 for a further 6 months until 15 March 2021.

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.


  • Reported in: Issue 212
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10/09/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine, US
  • Keywords: illegal annexation, West, European Union, Manipulated elections/referendum, Euromaidan, Elections, Sanctions, Crimea


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 UN’s JIM on Syria was disbanded due to unprofessionalism 

The Security Council had closed the file of the so-called Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) in November of 2017 due to the false and unprofessional practices that marred the work of that mechanism as a result of pressures on its team from the United States, Britain and France.

One of the JIM reports accused Syria of one of the incidents of using toxic chemicals, the “Khan Sheikhoun” incident, based on narratives and assessments in which technicians and experts of this mechanism used presumptive and uncertain terms.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attacking the independence and integrity of the OPCW, and absolving the Syrian regime of responsibility for chemical attacks, especially the one related to the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack.

The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) mandate was subject to extension by the UN Security Council. However, the Mechanism was terminated in late 2017, after the Russian delegation repeatedly blocked UNSC resolutions calling for its extension. The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) has thus been set up to investigate "cases for which (JIM) has not identified the perpetrators of chemical weapons use in Syria."

Merkel’s ultimatum buries negotiations on Donbas

The ultimatum, which Berlin addressed to Moscow about the “poisoning” of opposition blogger Alexei Navalny, can be addressed to the Ukrainian leadership, but not to Russia.

(It’s) doubtful that after this Putin is going to discuss with Merkel any issues related to the Normandy format. In general, the very idea of the Normandy format is under threat.


The recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about Navalny poisoning and the Normandy format, the aim of the latter being to resolve the war in Donbas.

There's no evidence that the position of Germany is going to impact the peace process on Donbas.

Ukraine has no historical roots

The words of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba that Ukrainians brought “civilisation to a significant territory of Russia” are stupid.  The reason for such statements is deep insecurities that stem from “the secondary nature of Ukrainian history”, as well as from Ukraine’s lack of historical roots.


Pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative designed to denigrate the history of Ukraine, Ukrainian statehood and its independence.

The history of Ukraine dates back to the era of the Kyivan Rus’ in the 9th-13th centuries. A national movement developed during the era when Ukraine was ruled by Russia; Ukrainian nationalists took part in the revolutionary movements that led to the demise of the Russian empire.