President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine
President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine
Office of the Spokesperson
March 5, 2014
As Russia spins a false narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine, the world has not seen such startling Russian fiction since Dostoyevsky wrote, “The formula ‘two plus two equals five’ is not without its attractions.”
Below are 10 of President Vladimir Putin’s recent claims justifying Russian aggression in the Ukraine, followed by the facts that his assertions ignore or distort.
1. Mr. Putin says: Russian forces in Crimea are only acting to protect Russian military assets. It is “citizens’ defense groups,” not Russian forces, who have seized infrastructure and military facilities in Crimea.
Strong evidence suggests that members of Russian security
services are at the heart of the highly organized
anti-Ukraine forces in Crimea. While these units wear
uniforms without insignia, they drive vehicles with Russian
military license plates and freely identify themselves as
Russian security forces when asked by the international
media and the Ukrainian military. Moreover, these
individuals are armed with weapons not generally available
2. Mr. Putin says: Russia’s actions fall within the scope of the 1997 Friendship Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
The Facts: The 1997
agreement requires Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial
integrity. Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, which
have given them operational control of Crimea, are in clear
violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and
3. Mr. Putin says: The opposition failed to implement the February 21 agreement with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
The Facts: The February 21 agreement laid out a plan in which the Rada, or Parliament, would pass a bill to return Ukraine to its 2004 Constitution, thus returning the country to a constitutional system centered around its parliament. Under the terms of the agreement, Yanukovych was to sign the enacting legislation within 24 hours and bring the crisis to a peaceful conclusion. Yanukovych refused to keep his end of the bargain. Instead, he packed up his home and fled, leaving behind evidence of wide-scale corruption.
4. Mr. Putin says: Ukraine’s government is illegitimate. Yanukovych is still the legitimate leader of Ukraine.
The Facts: On March 4, President Putin himself acknowledged the reality that Yanukovych “has no political future.” After Yanukovych fled Ukraine, even his own Party of Regions turned against him, voting to confirm his withdrawal from office and to support the new government. Ukraine’s new government was approved by the democratically elected Ukrainian Parliament, with 371 votes – more than an 82% majority. The interim government of Ukraine is a government of the people, which will shepherd the country toward democratic elections on May 25th – elections that will allow all Ukrainians to have a voice in the future of their country.
5. Mr. Putin says: There is a humanitarian crisis and hundreds of thousands are fleeing Ukraine to Russia and seeking asylum.
The Facts: To date,
there is absolutely no evidence of a humanitarian crisis.
Nor is there evidence of a flood of asylum-seekers fleeing
Ukraine for Russia. International organizations on the
ground have investigated by talking with Ukrainian border
guards, who also refuted these claims. Independent
journalists observing the border have also reported no such
flood of refugees.
6. Mr. Putin says: Ethnic Russians are under threat.
The Facts: Outside of Russian press and Russian state television, there are no credible reports of any ethnic Russians being under threat. The new Ukrainian government placed a priority on peace and reconciliation from the outset. President Oleksandr Turchynov refused to sign legislation limiting the use of the Russian language at regional level. Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers have filed petitions attesting that their communities have not experienced threats. Furthermore, since the new government was established, calm has returned to Kyiv. There has been no surge in crime, no looting, and no retribution against political opponents.
7. Mr. Putin says: Russian bases are under threat.
Russian military facilities were and remain secure,
and the new Ukrainian government has pledged to abide by all
existing international agreements, including those covering
Russian bases. It is Ukrainian bases in Crimea that are
under threat from Russian military action.
8. Mr. Putin says: There have been mass attacks on churches and synagogues in southern and eastern Ukraine.
The Facts: Religious
leaders in the country and international religious freedom
advocates active in Ukraine have said there have been no
incidents of attacks on churches. All of Ukraine’s church
leaders, including representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox
Church-Moscow Patriarchate, have expressed support for the
new political leadership, calling for national unity and a
period of healing. Jewish groups in southern and eastern
Ukraine report that they have not seen an increase in
9. Mr. Putin says: Kyiv is trying to destabilize Crimea.
The Facts: Ukraine’s
interim government has acted with restraint and sought
dialogue. Russian troops, on the other hand, have moved
beyond their bases to seize political objectives and
infrastructure in Crimea. The government in Kyiv immediately
sent the former Chief of Defense to defuse the situation.
Petro Poroshenko, the latest government emissary to pursue
dialogue in Crimea, was prevented from entering the Crimean
10. Mr. Putin says: The Rada is under the influence of extremists or terrorists.
The Facts: The Rada is the most representative institution in Ukraine. Recent legislation has passed with large majorities, including from representatives of eastern Ukraine. Far-right wing ultranationalist groups, some of which were involved in open clashes with security forces during the EuroMaidan protests, are not represented in the Rada. There is no indication that the Ukrainian government would pursue discriminatory policies; on the contrary, they have publicly stated exactly the opposite.