Russia hijacks U.S. State Department’s Ukraine hashtag

If war is politics by other means, Twitter is flipping the bird by other means. While Russia feuds with the U.S. and its NATO partners over the crisis in Ukraine, the official Twitter account of Russia's foreign ministry has started parroting a hashtag first propagated by the U.S. State Department.

It began with this tweet from the State Department's deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf in March, heralding the #UnitedforUkraine meme:

Then it got renewed impetus this week:

But the Russians could play this game, too. In the past 12 hours, the Russian Foreign Ministry Twitter account in English (@MFA_Russia) offered these ripostes:

It pinned the hashtag on statements made by Moscow's envoy at the U.N.:

The Russian Embassy in Ottawa got in on the act as well:

And, for good measure, the hashtag got an airing alongside a statement from Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:

This sort of banter is not unusual for the Russian ministry's account, which has sparred with European foreign ministers including Sweden's Carl Bildt and Poland's Radoslaw Sikorski — both prolific tweeters.

In March, when Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry went for a stroll on the sidelines of talks, the @MFA_Russia account offered these two droll comments as the diplomats disappeared and returned kicking a soccer ball:

Game on, indeed.

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.



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