On February 20, 2014, Russia committed an international crime, violated the basic principles of the international law and the European order, destroyed the existing balance of power in the region and provoked the greatest security crisis in Europe since the Second World War.
Russian troops began to occupy Crimea roughly violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. The trucks without number plates and the armed military personnel in unmarked green army uniforms appeared on the peninsula. At the same time, the irregular armed formations of mercenaries from among the local residents were created and subsequently led by officers of the special services and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
The situation was fast-changing. The Russian special forces soldiers seized the buildings of the Supreme Council and the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on the night of February 27 and installed Russian flags on them. On March 16, the so-called "referendum" was held, and two days later – on March 18 – the "reunification" of Crimea with the Russian Federation was proclaimed.
Russia initially refused to recognize the fact of its military aggression. Only on April 17, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time publicly acknowledged that the Russian military personnel participated in the events in Crimea. It also became known that the participants in the special operation (the military personnel led by Russian defense minister Shoigu and criminals who "worked off" the reduction of their terms of imprisonment) were awarded the Medal "For the Return of Crimea".
For some time in Ukraine there was no legally established date of the beginning of the aggression of the Russian Federation. This date was considered March 27, 2014, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, recognizing Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as its inalienable parts, or April 27, 2014, when the Ukrainian law on ensuring the rights and freedoms in the temporarily occupied territory was passed.
The official date of the beginning of the temporary occupation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol – February 20, 2014 – was defined by the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine on Determining the Date of Beginning of Temporary Occupation" dated September 15, 2015 No.685-VIII. This law contributes to the protection of the rights of the state, citizens and legal entities as well as strengthens Ukraine's position in litigation against the Russian Federation.
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