Fact Checking the Fact Checking:
The referendum was rushed, political opposition was squelched, and the choices did not allow for a "no." (The options were either joining Russia — what the ballot called "reunification" — or remaining part of Ukraine with greater autonomy, effectively making the region independent in all but name.)
The point is that it is Russia's legal view that there was an illegal coup to such a degree that the Ukrainian Constitution was effectively rendered null and void, meaning Crimea no longer was bound to remain under it.
In addition, there was an 82% turnout by the voters, which also makes the Washington Post's point moot. Perhaps 18% would have voted "no" to either choice on the ballot. Those who wanted neither choice who did go in to vote and discovered no third option were under no obligation to mark either choice available. How many did that, a handful if that?
That said, it would have been better to have included that third option though the outcome would have been no different.
Moving on to the WaPo's next "point," it is missing the larger point of Mr. Putin's address. He isn't standing upon technicalities concerning Khrushchev's move to give Crimea to Ukraine. His whole address points to his view that the Bolsheviks were wrong in general.
The WaPo, propagandistically, leaves out Mr. Putin's next sentence: "Naturally, in a totalitarian state nobody bothered to ask the citizens of Crimea and Sevastopol."
As for Vladimir Putin saying that "Crimeans say that in 1991, they were handed over like a sack of potatoes," this is in the context of the dissolution of the USSR. With Russia economically collapsed, a Crimea vote "on whether to join Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed" is hardly a refutation that Crimea was as a sack of potatoes. The Russians there certainly must have felt as Mr. Putin described. This is hardly a fact that Glenn Kessler checked. We are talking about the view of some Russians in Crimea at the time. Did Mr. Kessler actually ask them? No.
"They [Ukrainian revolutionaries] resorted to terror, murder and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day."
A coup d'Ã©tat is obviously in the eye of the beholder, but Putin, without meaning to, actually is describing the role of the former Russian-backed government when he refers to terror and murder during the uprisings.
No proof for this is given.
... Putin confirms Russian armed forced entered Crimea. But his math is in dispute. The Ukrainian government says the terms of the 30-year lease with Russia limits the number of Russian troops in Crimea to 12,500. But other accounts say the lease allows up to 25,000.
That's not fact checking. Fact checking is checking the lease document and reporting what it really says. Doing what Kessler has done here is US false-propaganda against Russia. That's a fact.
As for the Kosovo analogy, Mr. Kessler's supposed refutation of Mr. Putin is so lacking that I haven't the faintest idea of where to begin to refute Mr. Kessler on it. Mr. Kessler's statements about the analogy are completely irrelevant as to whether the analogy holds up, which it does, as do analogies concerning many other people's declaring their secessions and joining themselves to others.
If Mr. Kessler had wanted to make a point, he might have brought up Chechnya, though there, the issue of Islamic terrorism would still pertain.
I would like to reiterate that I understand those who came out on Maidan with peaceful slogans against corruption, inefficient state management and poverty. The right to peaceful protest, democratic procedures and elections exist for the sole purpose of replacing the authorities that do not satisfy the people. However, those who stood behind the latest events in Ukraine had a different agenda: they were preparing yet another government takeover; they wanted to seize power and would stop short of nothing. They resorted to terror, murder and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day.
The new so-called authorities began by introducing a draft law to revise the language policy, which was a direct infringement on the rights of ethnic minorities. However, they were immediately 'disciplined' by the foreign sponsors of these so-called politicians. One has to admit that the mentors of these current authorities are smart and know well what such attempts to build a purely Ukrainian state may lead to. The draft law was set aside, but clearly reserved for the future. Hardly any mention is made of this attempt now, probably on the presumption that people have a short memory. Nevertheless, we can all clearly see the intentions of these ideological heirs of Bandera, Hitler's accomplice during World War II.
It is also obvious that there is no legitimate executive authority in Ukraine now, nobody to talk to. Many government agencies have been taken over by the impostors, but they do not have any control in the country, while they themselves – and I would like to stress this – are often controlled by radicals. In some cases, you need a special permit from the militants on Maidan to meet with certain ministers of the current government. This is not a joke – this is reality. [Source]
Okay, so there's some degree of hyperbole (transparent, exaggerating propaganda) there, but it is vastly less hyperbolic than your average US politician's claims against Russia.
For the most part, Mr. Putin's speech was extremely logical and well-founded. We don't agree with his glorification of militarism, but that's another issue altogether, as the US is hyper-militaristic itself.