The population of Donbas, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter, which makes the referendums in southern and eastern Ukraine legitimate, says Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. In fact, Russia violated the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law by invading Ukraine, and the international community will not recognize the referendums.
NEWS: “The People’s Republic of Donetsk, the People’s Republic of Luhansk, the regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter, and Moscow will abide by their decision”, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said.
[…] We have noticed the people’s aspiration of being part of the Russian Federation, which is why we will respect their choice. These intentions were made public in recent days by the heads of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, but also by the leaders of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. They all have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter, the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation went on to say.
Lavrov recalled that the first state to recognize the independence of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk was not Russia, but South Ossetia. “Once Russia recognized them, Abkhazia, Syria and North Korea followed” […]
The authorities of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and the administrations of the regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson have decided to organize a series of referendums on their annexation to Russia as subjects of the Federation.”
NARRATIVE: The referendums on the annexation of Russian-held territories in eastern and southern Ukraine observe the UN Charter
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: According to the arguments provided by Sergey Lavrov, local leaders want the territories in southern and eastern Ukraine to be annexed to Russia, and Moscow cannot but endorse this process, which complies with international law. Lavrov is in fact trying to manipulate public opinion. The regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are partially occupied by Russia and governed by an occupation regime.
The UN Charter forbids the invasion of a state by another state. In this case, Russia violated the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine. Russia itself violated the UN Charter, a number of bilateral agreements and memorandums by starting a war with Ukraine. According to the UN Declaration on Principles of International Law, invoked by Lavrov, each nation has a right to self-determination, yet without external support, namely actions of third-parties that are in breach of territorial integrity. Russia, however, violated this principle, and the referendums it is organizing in Donbas, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia lack transparency, they fail to observe fundamental election principles and are held in the context of an ongoing war and under occupation.
Moreover, international recognition plays a very important part. Lavrov said the independence of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk was recognized by South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two separatist republics financed by Moscow that have not been recognized by the international community themselves, as well as by Syria and North Korea, two pariah countries that are subject to international sanctions, have brutal dictatorial regimes and are Russia’s allies.
The referendums organized by Russia will not be recognized by the international community. Clear signals in this respect have already been sent by scores of officials, including the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who argued that Russia’s actions in Donbas and southern Ukraine are destroying international order, and European Foreign Ministers, who have condemned plans to organize referendums on the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories to Russia and stated they would never recognize the result.
While the international community has criticized Russia for repeatedly violating international law, Sergey Lavrov says otherwise. Under the UN Charter, which Lavrov quotes only in part, member states should refrain from any action which “would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States, conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Veridica has debunked a number of false narratives using international law to justify the war. In May, the Russian government media wrote that Ukrainian forces are bombing schools or using them for military purposes, and the UN has confirmed the information. In August, Russian propaganda was trying to prove the UN and Turkey recognize Russia’s right to control Ukraine’s maritime ports, after in April Russian TV stations reported on a talk Vladimir Putin had with António Guterres, when the Kremlin leader convinced the UN Secretary General that Ukrainian Nazis must be brought before the International Criminal Court.