Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club on October 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin said various countries accuse Russia of transgressions without presenting evidence. He did not specify which accusations, describing them only in general terms such as “we did this or that, intervened here, did something there.”
Although Putin does not detail the accusations against Russia, Polygraph.info has compiled a list of the most infamous ones, and the evidence for each.
At the top of the list is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of that country’s Crimean peninsula. While Putin and his government claim this was a matter of self-determination decided by a peaceful referendum, the annexation was carried out by military force and the referendum had a low turnout. Most of the world regards Crimea as part of Ukraine under Russian occupation.
Besides annexing Crimea, undeclared Russian forces also invaded and occupied part of eastern Ukraine. Here, Russia generally denies all involvement, although Putin once admitted to having some military personnel in the Donbas. Once again, Polygraph.info has conducted several fact checks on this claim and debunked the official Russian position that the conflict in eastern Ukraine is just a “civil war.”
Another result of that war was the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, which killed all 298 civilians aboard. To date, international investigations have pointed to a Buk-TELAR surface-to-air missile system, tied directly to a Russian military unit, as having brought the airliner down. However, Russia has produced many alternative explanations, some of them contradictory or physically impossible. Polygraph.info evaluated a sampling of these theories to compare them with the work of the international Joint Investigative Team.
In Syria, Russia has been accused of complicity in war crimes -- both directly, because of indiscriminate aerial bombing of cities, and indirectly, for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Assad regime has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons, and while such weapons were deployed by his own forces, Russia has routinely spread propaganda denying their use. Russia used its UN Security Council veto to hamper efforts to investigate chemical weapons incidents.
The most recent long-running scandal was the failed attempt to assassinate ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal using a deadly chemical agent known as Novichok. Initially, Russian authorities and state media responded with a flurry of alternative explanations, much like the MH17 case. British authorities subsequently released photographs of the two suspects in the case. The two suspects were interviewed by RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, but their cover stories fell apart under international scrutiny. Instead of answering the allegations, Russian officials have tried to discredit Bellingcat, the organization that helped uncover the identity of the two suspects, claiming it receives information from Western intelligence agencies.
These are among the most conspicuous of the “accusations” that Vladimir Putin’s comment could encompass, which his accusers backed up with evidence for their claims. A number of others could be cited.
Additionally, Put’s comments at the Valdai Discussion Club included a number of false or misleading claims, which Polygraph.info has covered or is now fact checking.
•Putin’s repetition of his oft-stated false claim that Crimea “is ours.”
•Putin’s remark that, “we don’t create tensions” in international relations.
•Putin’s premature suggestion that China’s economy has grown larger than the U .S. economy, expected in the future but not yet.