Politicians and the media always say the following: Russia “annexed” the Crimean peninsula illegally. However, the Crimeans themselves decided to join Russia and made an appropriate statement that Russia accepted. This legal interpretation is presented by Reinhard Merkel, Professor Emeritus for Criminal Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of Hamburg.
Being outraged at the Russian actions and the expulsion of the Ukrainian representatives from Crimea, Merkel could not seriously doubt that the referendum in Crimea, as a result, coincides with the overwhelming majority of the Crimeans. Therefore, the corresponding operations in the Crimea did not satisfy the criteria of annexation. If there were the correct official results of the vote individually, it would not mean anything for it.
The things happened in Crimea can be assessed as a secession, a declaration of state independence, confirmed by a referendum, that approved the secession from Ukraine. It has caused a request for joining the Russian Federation which Moscow accepted. Separation, referendum, and joining preclude annexation, the Professor states.
Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website