The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Putin’s speech on Crimea leaving Ukraine to join Russia, fact-checked

When Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke to a session of parliament on Tuesday, he began by claiming that the Crimean referendum was held “in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.”

In fact, although some Crimeans have strong cultural ties to Russia and were happy with the results, the vote itself on Saturday was rushed and “condemned by most of the world,” The Washington Post reported. Two primary concerns were the increased Russian military presence in Crimea in recent weeks and the lack of an option for the status quo on the ballot. 

The Fact Checker blog and Truth Teller team looked into this and other claims in Putin’s speech announcing the annexation of Crimea. We’ve fact-checked other parts that are misleading or untrue; watch the video below to see why:

In a speech to a joint session of the Russian parliament, President Vladimir Putin defended his rights to annex Crimea. But were his statements on point? We put Putin's speech to the Truth Teller test. (Video: Julie Percha/The Washington Post)

VIDEO: Three falsehoods in Putin’s Crimea speech to a joint session of Russian parliament. Truth Teller fact-checks video in the news to explain the truth about what’s being said.

Glenn Kessler writes at the Fact Checker:

The Fact Checker is obviously not rating the entire speech, which reflects Putin’s worldview. But certainly this selection of statements is highly deficient or based on slim facts. He ignores Russia’s real interest in removing nuclear weapons from Ukraine’s soil, which led to a pledge by Moscow to respect Kiev’s sovereignty. He hypes the involvement of nationalist and right-wing groups in the uprising. The Kosovo analogy is a real stretch. One could quibble on whether some of these statements are worth Three Pinocchios, but the statement on the Crimean referendum by itself is worth Four Pinocchios. So that’s what the Russian president earns.

For more context on the false statements Putin made, read the Fact Checker post here.

Things are far from settled after Putin’s defiant announcement Tuesday. Russia still has to formally accept the territory as part of its own. And Carol Morello and Kathy Lally report Wednesday on the 200 Russian-backed forces that stormed Crimean naval headquarters, even as the Ukrainian defense minister maintains that Ukraine has “no intention of withdrawing its military from Crimea.” Meanwhile, the Obama administration and European allies are weighing their options on a further response.

To learn more about the history of Crimea and the region, see WorldViews’s in-depth explainer or glossary of words, phrases, people and places from the larger Ukraine crisis.