#BBCTrending: Canada and Russia in Twitter fight over map
- 28 August 2014
This is Russia. This is "not Russia".
That's the message the Canadian Nato delegation tweeted, in map form, to Russian soldiers "who keep getting lost and 'accidentally' entering Ukraine".
"Geography can be tough," it notes snarkily.
On Tuesday Ukraine released video of Russian paratroopers it says it captured within its eastern border. In response, Russian military sources said the men had crossed an unmarked portion of the border "by accident".
Canadian officials, it seems, aren't buying the story. Since the tweet went live, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has alleged that Russian troops have been "deployed" in eastern Ukraine
The map, which was sent out on Wednesday morning, has been retweeted more than 16,000 times. Users took to social media to offer their own commentary on geographically misguided Russians and Canadian "cheekiness".
"This is probably the most aggressive Canadian act since like 1812," tweets Kelsey D Atherton.
Of course, Americans could also probably use a little remedial geography instruction, if a poll conducted by the Washington Post in April is any indication.
Only 16% of respondents correctly located Ukraine on a map, and more than a hundred of the 2,066 participants seemed to think the Eastern European country was somewhere near Greenland or, ironically enough, Canada.
As the Toronto Globe and Mail reports, the tweet - which notably includes the contested Crimean region as part of "not Russia" - isn't an isolated instance of Canadian criticism of alleged Russian incursions into Ukraine.
"Russia's acts of aggression and intimidation toward Ukraine call for collective action," said Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird on Tuesday. "Canada, together with its like-minded allies, must clearly speak out."
An illustration did not accompany that statement.
UPDATE: A little more than 24 hours after the Canadian Nato delegation sent out its now-viral map, the Russian Nato delegation returned fire with a tweet from its official account.
"Helping our Canadian colleagues to catch up with contemporary geography of #Europe," was the message attached to a map of the area around the Black Sea.
Most notably, the Crimean Peninsula is labelled "Russia" and Abkhazia and South Ossetia - which have declared their independence from Georgia but have not been internationally recognised - are shaded.
Russia and Georgia fought a battle in 2008 over the territories, which still contain Russian forces.
Conveniently left unillustrated is the portion of Eastern Ukraine that is currently home to most of the fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatist rebels, where Ukraine says the Russian paratroopers were captured.
We anxiously await a Russian-produced map of Canada that shows an independent Quebec. It seems to be the way diplomacy is being conducted these days.
Reporting by Anthony Zurcher
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