During the Cold War, Soviet agents tried many things to discredit or remove foreign diplomats they did not like. Today it seems, Russian agents are using Twitter instead.
Late on Monday night, the Russian foreign ministry launched an unprecedented attack on Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, unleashing nine tweets in just one hour.
“The Foreign Ministry is utterly shocked at U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul’s remarks during a speech to students at the HSE,” the first tweet said. This was in reference to McFaul’s speech to the Center for International Education Higher School of Economics.
The foreign ministry continued, “Michael McFaul’s analysis is a deliberate distortion of a number of aspects of the Russian-U.S. dialogue.”
The U.S. Ambassador soon began responding to the Twitter attacks. “My HSE talk highlighted over 20 positive results of “reset,” [sic] that our governments worked together to achieve.”
He also posted what he refers to as his ‘last word on Higher School’ speech. “The goal of my speech was to applaud how we now cooperate in Central Asia,” McFaul wrote. He also attached his presentation online.
The Russian foreign ministry continued regardless. “Ambassadors’ job, as we understand it, is to improve bilateral ties, not to spread blatant falsehoods through the mediasphere.” Later, the MFA added “This is not the first time that Mr [sic] McFaul’s statements and actions have been a cause for concern”
On a lighter side, Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, commented on the war of words on his Twitter account. “I see that Russia MFA has launched a twitter-war against U.S. Ambassador @McFaul. That’s the new world – followers instead of nukes. Better.”
This is not the first dispute between the Russian government and the U.S. Recently during President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration speech, he criticized the West for not responding to the threat of Nazi Germany at the start of the Second World War.
Putin and Obama have cancelled planned trips to the other leader’s country for high profile international meetings.