A Disrespectful Media Practice
It's been one day since Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered an impassionate speech to establish his version of the facts in the face of his troop build-up at the border with Ukraine: He acknowledged the territory holds special significance by way of heritage, being Ukraine the place where the Rus people originally settled. The Rus were the common national ancestor to the modern peoples of Russia and Ukraine, a significance that under Putin’s view warrants a claim of influence over the territory higher than any possible claim to be exercised by the United States, an influence he is determined to protect from further erosion.
The next morning, the US embassy's social media campagin in Kiev shared the following meme with the public, comparing the developmental histories of Kiev and Moscow:
The semantics are clear: Kiev existed before Moscow, in a way affording the Ukranian capital more legitimacy than the modern Russian capital. The delivery of this information falls in stark contrast with the dignified delivery of Russian official speech. A concerned Twitter user expressed dismay:
Whatever your stance on the Russia-Ukraine issue, keeping form in official communication matters because form betrays both, a sense of intention and a sense of the dignity being afforded to the situation. In the course of dealing in memes, the US Government betrays a lack of high regard, a lack of seriousness in its handling of the situation.
For a government to mock official statements of another in the middle of serious confrontation is adolescent at best, more so mocking statements delivered in solemn manner by a nation's leader, a show of immaturity in government communications practice. Taking it the benign way, engaging in social media gossip while tensions are high amounts to side-chatter, a distraction that takes away from the government's more serious pronouncements.
In light of this, how is one to interpret the US State Secretary's official statements on the matter? That is, when an embassy directly under his control, operating directly in the territory in conflict, comes out trolling on social media in the hopes of… bending the Ukranian public opinion against Russia? Surely, if they haven't won on that court, we would have ourselves a real colorful situation.