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Battle Rages Between Russia and Euromaidan on Social Media

On Friday Russian “president” Vladimir Putin proved that his big-deal New York Times op-ed scolding President Obama on Syria and arguing that all countries should go through the United Nations before declaring war should have included an “except when I do it” disclaimer.

As the conflict on the ground intensifies, with Russian troops closing the nation’s airports and effectively seizing the Crimean peninsula, a proxy communications battle between the pro-Europe Ukranian protestors and the Kremlin has begun.

In order to keep the Western world informed and push the narrative, the Euromaidan movement established its own comms operation or “International Public Relations Secretariat” complete with corresponding  Twitter and Facebook pages. The feeds make for an alternately fascinating and disturbing source of real-time news, images from the ground and announcements like the one above, via English news site RT.

The group even schedules international protests as Facebook events:

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On the Kremlin side, things have been a bit slower. Here’s Putin’s official English language comms source:

And the spin:

“[The current situation is a] threat to citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, the personnel of the military contingent of the Russian Federation Armed Forces deployed on the territory of Ukraine…”

The appeal was approved by a unanimous vote, which should surprise no one.

Interestingly, we’ve yet to hear from the English wing of Pravda, the infamous Communist Party mouthpiece/celebrity gossip rag, on either of the two major social networks despite the fact that its English-language website and its Russian Twitter feed are covering the events as they happen.

Back in Ukraine, some journalists responded to Russia’s arrival with what we can only call bitter humor.

Of course Americans also weighed in—and many made the same unfortunate pun.

However it ends, Euromaidan will serve as a case study on the use of social media as a crucial tool during armed conflict just like the recent Arab uprisings. Here are some of today’s visually striking statements:

We hope the conflict ends quickly, but for now we can only refresh our feeds for the latest updates.

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