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Canada and Russia are throwing shade at each other on Twitter, and it's bizarre

So who won the Twitter war?

THE EASTERN BLACK Sea region is in the grip of a major international crisis.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula – previously part of Ukraine – earlier this year. And other parts of eastern and southeastern Ukraine have seen reports of persistent armed incursions by Russian forces aiding separatists in the region.

In a strong statement about these incursions today, Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Russia of a “blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty” and condemned these actions “in the strongest terms”.

And weirdly, the diplomatic crisis has spilled over onto Twitter.

Wait, what?

Earlier this week, the official Canadian delegation to Nato decided to step things up a bit. So they tweeted this nasty burn:

OUCH.

It didn’t take the Permanent Mission of Russia to Nato long to respond.

You’ll notice that on this map, the Crimean peninsula – marked with its main cities Sevastopol and Yalta – is marked as Russian.

So who’s right?

Well, most of the international community consider Crimea to still be part of Ukraine. The UN General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution saying that the referendum assigning control of Crimea to Russia was invalid – which was supported by 100 countries and opposed by 11, with 58 abstentions.

Russia, of course, doesn’t agree. And five other countries have made statements recognising Crimea as part of Russia: Afghanistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela.

Russia Crimean Holiday Russian tourists on a beach in Crimea last month Source: AP/Press Association Images

And who won the Twitter war?

Well, Canada’s tweet so far has 32,000 retweets and 14,000 favourites. Russia’s tweet has 1,100 retweets and 384 favourites.

That’s a pretty clear margin. However, if you look at the distribution of users on Twitter, only 1.3 per cent are Russian speakers. (That’s according to these 2013 figures in the New York Times.)

Some 51 per cent are English speakers, who we can probably assume are largely from key Nato countries like the UK, the US and of course Canada itself. So it’s not really a fair battle.

In fact, if you take those relative figures into account, Russia actually has MORE retweets per Russian-language Twitter user than Canada has per English-language user. (Of course, that rationale is completely and irretrievably unscientific.)

Anything else?

Interestingly, the Russian map doesn’t claim any of the Ukrainean areas that Russia has recently been accused of sending troops into – in fact, it clearly marks them as part of Ukraine.

We await more tweets.

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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