Fact Check: A 1920 Map Of Greater Romania Does NOT Prove That Ukraine Is An Illegitimate Country

Fact Check

  • de: Jurnaliștii Lead Stories
Fact Check: A 1920 Map Of Greater Romania Does NOT Prove That Ukraine Is An Illegitimate Country Old Map

Does a 1920 map of Romania, encompassing Moldova and parts of southern Ukraine, prove that Ukraine is an illegitimate country and that the Russian invasion was then justified? No, that's not true: European borders have changed frequently during the two World Wars and cannot be used nowadays to undermine the sovereignty of an independent state.

The claim first appeared on TikTok as a video posted by user @cornel_sabou on March 29, 2023 (archived here). The caption read:

Romania's map in 1920. I can't seem to find Ukraine :)

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-04-11 at 16.27.33.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Apr 11 13:21:13 2023 UTC)

The map originally appeared in the March, 28, 1920, issue of Le Petit Journal, a French daily newspaper published in the 19th and 20th centuries. It shows what is known as Greater Romania, the territory encompassed by Romania between World War I and II, when the Kingdom of Romania, as it was known at the time, was at its greatest expanse.

TikTokers who shared the clip - among which Cornel Sabou, a self-proclaimed leader of the Romanian wing of QAnon - argue that, since Ukraine did not exist in 1920 (after the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the end of World War I). Russia was Romania's neighbor at the border of what is now the Republic of Moldova; Vladimir Putin was then entitled to attack Ukraine to take back that territory.

The portrayed map, however, does not explain the complexities of the evolution of European countries in the 20th century. Ukraine existed as an independent country between 1918 and 1920, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Still, for most of its history, it has experienced long periods of domination by its neighbors Poland, Russia (including USSR) and Romania. According to the Digital Encyclopedia of European History, the 20th century saw changes in all European countries: the fall of empires, the constant renegotiation of borders (including the Treaty of Versailles), and the emergence of "national" states.

In 1920, for instance, there were 33 European states. Two decades later, in 1941, there were 19, and now there are 45, Statista explained.

These changes cannot be used to justify invading a sovereign state, which Ukraine has been since 1991.

Several international organizations - NATO, EU, and UN, among others - agreed that Russia's military operation in Ukraine, launched on February, 24, 2022, was an "unprovoked war of aggression."

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