This is actually quite funny:
The Russian Embassy in the United States has posted a poll on Twitter asking people to choose which US Consulate-General should be closed after the announcement of the closure of the Russian Consulate-General in Seattle amid the US decision to expel 60 diplomats from the country.
Here’s the actual poll:
— Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) March 26, 2018
This isn’t the first time a Russian embassy has engaged in a spot of trolling, indeed the Russian embassy in London seems to take a delight in it:
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 21, 2018
Naturally, this has had people huffing and puffing that this is not behaviour expected of a diplomatic mission and that it is all extraordinarily undignified, but I have a sneaky suspicion they might be missing the point.
The fact is, long before Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were subject to a nerve agent attack, many of Russia’s critics – including heads of government – lost any right to be taken seriously by the Russian government when they engaged in a lengthy and high-profile campaign of absolute bullshit in which they accused Russia of throwing the US election. Despite there being no evidence whatsoever of the Russian government “hacking” the DNC’s servers, nor of their trying to influence the US election in favour of Trump, nor of Trump “colluding” with Russia, swathes of the western ruling classes and the media repeated these allegations to an international audience – and continue to do so. Seeing an opportunity to explain away other setbacks both real and potential, politicians seized on the all-seeing and all-knowing Russian bogeyman and doubled-down on the bullshit, such that national newspapers now claim Russia was behind Leave winning the Brexit referendum.
None of this should have happened, and you can be damned sure were the Soviet Union still intact and the Cold War raging, you’d not have western politicians shooting their mouths off about Russia like this. Their diplomatic clout would not have been spent inventing stories to explain why their own voters rejected them at the polls, but would have been reserved for serious matters – such as a double-agent being poisoned on British soil.
I know Russians well enough to believe this crisis isn’t being taken lightly by the government or their respective embassies, but they’ve taken a sober decision that mockery is a reasonable course of action for those who have spent almost 18 months engaging in behaviour which is…well, extraordinarily undignified. Perhaps Russia’s embassies will tweet in a more mature manner once their counterparts have grown up themselves. Indeed, I expect they’ve been waiting for some adults to enter the room for quite some time. I said at the time of Skripal’s poisoning that western leaders cried wolf once too many times over Russia, and now they’re not being taken seriously. They only have themselves to blame.