Russia Seeks to Rewrite History on Crimea

Russia is attempting to rewrite history by invalidating a 1954 decision that officially gave Ukraine control of Crimea, which Moscow went on to illegally annex in 2014.

Crimea was given to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev as a “gift” on the 300-year anniversary of the Pereiaslav Agreement, which saw Ukraine form a military alliance with Russia.

Both Russia and Ukraine were republics of the Soviet Union at the time of the transfer. Ukraine retained control of the peninsula after declaring independence from the then-crumbling Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly vowed that Ukraine’s ongoing war against invading Russian forces will not end until Kyiv takes back control of all of its Russian-occupied territory, including the entirety of Crimea.

A man is pictured holding an “I Am Crimea” sign in Moscow on March 18, 2015. Russian lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would invalidate the Soviet Union’s 1954 decision to give Crimea to Ukraine….


ALEXANDER UTKIN/AFP

A bill recently submitted in the Russian State Duma by members Konstantin Zatulin and Sergei Tsekov would declare the Soviet Union’s decision to give Crimea to Ukraine illegal and unconstitutional, according to a Tuesday report from The Kyiv Post.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the bill on Tuesday, calling it an attempt to justify “gross violations of international law” and evidence of Russian “panic” over the “inevitability of de-occupation.”

“The submission to the Russian State Duma of a draft law on recognizing as ‘illegal’ the decision of the Soviet authorities in 1954 to transfer Crimea to Ukraine is a worthless attempt by the Russian dictatorship to legitimize its own gross violations of international law,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Russian authorities can continue their propaganda as much as they want, in particular under the guise of legislation, but this will not change the reality recognized by the world community: Crimea is Ukraine,” the statement continues.

Newsweek reached out for comment to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via email on Tuesday.

The 1954 decree that gave Ukraine control of Crimea noted “the territorial proximity and the close economic ties between Crimea Province and the Ukraine Republic.”

Russia invaded and took control of Crimea in February 2014, marking the beginning of a war that reached a new stage with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Crimea was annexed after a referendum was held that Moscow claimed showed over 95 percent of residents wanted the peninsula to become a part of Russia. International observers condemned the result, claiming that the vote had been manipulated.

Similar referendums were held more recently by Russian-installed governments in the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia—all four of which Putin claimed to annex in September 2022.

The referendums once again had what were considered to be questionable results by international observers, claiming to show that overwhelming majorities of residents in the military-occupied regions had approved of Russian control.