In the 2000s, Russia tried in the ex-Soviet space to replicate the same arguments (and tactics) of relativising international law that the West/NATO used in order to justify their own intervention in the ex-Yugoslav space back in the 1990s. This strategy of so-called ‘mimicry’ manifests by changing the meanings of international norms based on one’s own preferences, but does not accept other powers to behave in the same way. This strategy of legitimisation, which lies behind recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (2008) or the annexation of Crimea (2014), mixes real elements with fake ones, and ends in distorting reality. To illustrate the political consequences of such practices, we can take a look at Russia’s strategy of invoking the Western ‘precedent’ in Kosovo in order to legitimate the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. The paper aims to argue that when analysing Russia’s actions in Crimea in 2014, there is a need for a thorough analysis of the main legitimacy claims used to justify external intervention to outline potential lessons that could be learnt by Ukraine from the experiences of the Balkans.