Disinfo: The conflict in Ukraine is internal and has no relation to Russia

Summary

In March 2014, the Crimea peninsula came under the sovereignty of Russia, based on the results of a referendum. In Donbas, residents of some Russian-speaking regions refused to recognise the new Ukrainian authorities, which led to the emergence of “two people’s republics” on part of the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, declaring their independence from Kyiv unilaterally. The new Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against them in an attempt to regain these lands, which resulted in the outbreak of an armed conflict in the region.

Ukraine accused Russia of providing direct military support to “separatists” and “occupying” part of Donbas, which Moscow denies, insisting that the Ukrainian conflict is internal.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine, attempting to portray it as a civil war, and claiming that the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia was a result of a so-called “legal referendum”.

There is irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has 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."

The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation".

According to the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Russian special forces and troops operated to mobilise, lead, equip, and support separatist militias in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine from spring 2014 to the present, although their presence was denied by Moscow. On top of that, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015.

As for the annexation, 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 European Union does not recognise and continues to strongly condemn this violation of international law, which remains a challenge to the international security order.

Following the covert invasion of “little green men,” power in Crimea was vested in a makeshift executive headed by Sergey Aksenov. The new Crimean regime conducted the referendum hastily and at gunpoint, barred impartial observers from entering the peninsula, and instead invited dozens of fringe politicians and activists to “monitor” the procedure, most of them far-right Kremlin loyalists.

See 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, that Crimea never belonged to Ukraine, that Crimea’s reunification with Russia was legal and that Crimea is a Russian sovereign region.

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  • Reported in: Issue 232
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/02/2021
  • Outlet language(s) Arabic
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: DNR, illegal annexation, Donetsk, Civil war, Manipulated elections/referendum, LNR, Ukrainian statehood, Crimea, Referendum, Minsk agreements, Elections, War in Ukraine
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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Alexei Navalny and popular protests as staged operations by foreign powers. Similar claims can be found here on Venezuela, Ukraine, Belarus, Hong Kong and, now, Russia.

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Disproof

An unfounded claim, consistent with a trope, suggesting that European governments have the rights to "steal children" from their families, and, potentially, handing them over to "perverts". Similar stories can be found here and here.

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Alexei Navalny. The claim that Navalny is somehow used by the West and foreign special services for the political destabilisation of Russia is disinformation.

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