Wednesday 29 January 2020

War of the map tweets goes viral

Canada and Russia's Twitter exchanges over spoof maps of Ukraine have gone viral
Canada and Russia's Twitter exchanges over spoof maps of Ukraine have gone viral

It began with Canada tweeting some not-so-friendly travel tips for the Russian military: a map showing Russia and labelling Ukraine as "not Russia".

That opening shot was enough to launch a Twitter war of words - and maps.

Canada's Nato Twitter account posted the map with the explanation: "Geography can be tough. Here's a guide for Russian soldiers who keep getting lost and 'accidentally' enter Ukraine."

The tweet went viral, being retweeted more than 25,000 times by early today, including by America's United Nations ambassador Samantha Power.

Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March, hit back by tweeting its own map showing Crimea as part of its territory.

Kiev has accused Russia of sending tanks, artillery and troops across Ukraine's border.

Russia says its only active duty soldiers in Ukraine were the 10 captured earlier this week, who Moscow insists had mistakenly wandered across the border.

Nato estimates that as many as 1,000 Russian troops are fighting inside Ukraine with an additional 20,000 soldiers massing on the border for support or possible reinforcements.

"It's important to look at this exchange through the current context," said Rick Roth, spokesman for Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird.

"The original tweet was in the context of Russian military personnel being found in sovereign Ukrainian territory, claiming they were lost. Nobody believes that."

Mr Baird called the recent events a "significant provocation" in advance of next week's Nato summit in Wales, where the alliance's leaders are expected to hold a special meeting with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.

Ukraine is not a member of Nato, so the alliance is not automatically obliged to come to its defence.

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