The bizarre way Russia responded to the expulsion of its US diplomats
Russia is using Twitter to solicit suggestions for how to respond to President Donald Trump's decision to expel 60 of its diplomats from the United States.
The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs began a crowdsourcing effort after the White House announced the expulsions along with plans to close the Russian consulate in Seattle.
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In a tweet, the Russian foreign ministry's Twitter account named three US diplomatic stations in Russia and asked users to choose which one they'd like closed.
The choices are the US consulate general in St. Petersburg, the consulate in Vladivostok, and the consulate in Yekaterinburg.
— Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) March 26, 2018
As of 11 a.m. ET, St. Petersburg was in the lead with about 1,600 of 3,400 votes.
The unorthodox approach to international relations follows a similar template to one used by Russia when it announced a new generation of nuclear and defense technology.
Early March 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense asked people to choose between names for what it described as a new breed of hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile:
На официальном сайте Минобороны РФ запущен специальный сервис, предназначенный для выбора наименований новейших образцов российского оружия. С сегодняшнего дня любой посетитель официального сайта Минобороны России с помощью простого и понятного сервиса https://t.co/Fg0eglezqT pic.twitter.com/ozDnpNScCk
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) March 1, 2018
The results have since been announced, and they decided that the new missile should be called Burevestnik, a type of bird. It narrowly beat Palmyra, a site of clashes in Syria between Russia and the Islamic State terrorist group, and Surprise.
It also reflects a broader tendency for Russian diplomatic channels to joke about international relations.
After Russia was accused of being behind the poisoning of a Russian former spy on British soil, the action that prompted the US to expel the Russian diplomats, Russia's embassy in the UK tweeted that Agatha Christie's fictional detective Hercule Poirot should be sent to figure out the truth.
In absence of evidence, we definitely need Poirot in Salisbury! pic.twitter.com/EHTlEQmcPp
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 18, 2018