Annexation of Crimea Аннексія Криму (ua)
by early 2014, following the Maidan protests and Yanukovich’s departure from government and Ukraine on 21 February, Moscow changed from rhetoric to a hybrid warfare campaign. On the night of 27 Feb 2014, Russian special forces took over the local legislature of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea. At the same time, Russian troops, previously stationed in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol under the Black Sea Fleet Treaty of 1997, started besieging and attacking Ukrainian troops, government buildings, and infrastructure in direct violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum which guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine. On 16 March, Russian authorities and pro-Russian separatists conducted an illegal “referendum” for Crimea and Sevastopol to join Russia with the reported but unlikely outcome of 96.7 percent supporting annexation. Putin himself later acknowledged that around twenty thousand Russian troops were present in Crimea during the “referendum,” which has been perceived as influencing the outcome. Two days after the “referendum,” the Russian Federation signed the treaty of accession for Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and thus enacted what the world considers an unlawful annexation of Ukrainian territories.