Addressing a gathering of the All-Russia People’s Front party on October 26 in Crimea, Vladimir Putin reiterated the Kremlin stance of 2014 that the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula became part of Russia by an “active stand” taken by “engaged people” who “decided for themselves” by referendum.
Putin is referring to the official results of the referendum that showed that 97 percent of Crimeans voted for integration of the region into the Russian Federation on March 16, 2014.
However, the referendum took place after Russian soldiers moved into the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula and seized Crimea.
Following the results of the referendum, Russia annexed Crimea later in March 2014, ignoring the statements by the U.N General Assembly, the United States, Ukraine, the European Parliament, numerous other governments, and a chorus of critics in the international press calling the referendum illegal.
After the vote, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in declaring the referendum invalid.
At a Center for the United States and Europe forum on March 19, 2014, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the annexation occurred through “a referendum at gunpoint.”
Crimea’s indigenous people, the Crimean Tatars, announced that they did not participate in the referendum – making a high level of approval for Russian annexation unlikely.