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The Russian and Ukrainian Embassies for Indonesia are using Twitter to gain support from Indonesians in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Interestingly, the patterns of their strategies colouring the Twitter arena are different and even ‘striking’.

Digital diplomacy involves the use of digital technology and social media platforms. As a non-aligned country in the midst of the Ukraine-Russia Conflict, the tendency for routing support from Indonesian individuals—based on their own interpretations and perceptions—is not something that can be avoided,  thus it is found both on the Ukraine and Russian side, as the Russian Ambassador for Indonesia said to RIA Novosti. The two embassies of the conflicting countries use digital diplomacy, one of which is to upload Twitter posts (tweets) containing narratives that can affect the audiences’ support.

According to the Twiplomacy 2015 report, almost all UN members have Twitter accounts as it is the most popular governmental social media. . The Burson Cohn & Wolfe  Twiplomacy Study 2020 reported  that @MFA_Russia—which is the Russian Embassy’s Twitter most retweets from—is among  the most active and connected foreign government accounts. 

Russia has been carrying out its military operation into Ukraine since February 24, asserting via Twitter that there is an increased threat to Russian security if Ukraine joins NATO while explaining their intention: it is to protect the population of pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists (like those in the Donbas region) from oppression and persecution by the Ukrainian regime, hence bringing in demilitarization and denazification as an excuse. Russia uses the term “special military operations” in committing this operation in Ukraine. Ukraine uses the words “invasion” and “occupation” to describe the unprovoked aggression.

Examples of Tweets by the Russian Embassy in Jakarta

twitter rusia
twitter kedubes rusia

Since February 24, @RusEmbJakarta‘s strategy on using tweets concerning the Ukraine-Russia conflict has been grouped into five types of tweets:

1. Explaining Russia’s Side of the Story

The Russian Ambassador for Indonesia gives interviews with Indonesian media and political figures or through events which are intended to show openness/transparency to dialogue and explain Russia’s position to the audiences. She stressed that they only protect the Ukrainian population who is experiencing oppression by the Ukrainian regime. This openness includes  weets containing Russia’s intentions and an update on the situation in Ukraine according to them. In addition, the Embassy also promotes favoured writings that reveal the Ukraine Crisis.

2. Portraying the West in a Negative Light

Antagonizing Western countries (US, NATO, and the EU with its members)  such as NATO’s expansion; biological military weapon labs in Ukraine; and the EU’s failure to handle the Ukraine crisis with the Minsk Agreement. This includes Ukraine along with Western countries, who have been provoking false information against Russia. In fact, Russia has referred to the West with the “monster”, “arrogant”, “arrogant”, “bloodthirsty” and used words that show that Russia cares for each other against the “evil” West. Russia believes the media is controlled by them and tends to remain silent to cover the unfavoured facts, including the unfair labelling of “Russian-affiliated media”.

3. Blaming the Ukrainian Regime for the Corrupted Country

Antagonizing the regime of the Ukrainian government for being reluctant to dialogue, persecuting its own people, as was done in Kyiv of confronting the Maidan incident; Odessa; Donbas; Bucha; and Mariupol. This includes the notion noting that they adhere to Nazism.

4. Showing Russia’s Closeness to Indonesia through Their Economic Relations and Common Political Views

The Ambassador  had a discussion with several companies and civil organizations such as MNC and NU. This includes organizations in other regions such as the G20, IORA, AU, CELAC, ASEAN, CIS, SCTO, BRICS, SCO, and EAEU.

5. Showing Russian-Indonesian Good Relations and Closeness Philologically and Historically

For Example, denoting the Sankt Blue Mosque which was renovated under Soekarno’s orders and the photo of Soekarno with the first Russian astronauts. Another example is the origin of the word “Ura” as a Russian military encouragement from Sanskrit. This relationship is also relevant to Indonesia’s majority religion, which is Islam, with frequent tweets about Muslims supporting Russia and the use of “mosque” contexts in such cases like the Mariupol conflict.

Number of Tweets of Each Tweet Types by @RusEmbJakarta Twitter from 24 February-28 April 2022: With Average 2 Tweets Per Day

Examples of Tweets by the Ukrainian Embassy in Jakarta

In a large volume of posts per day, since March 9 (Twitter restricts view access to posts 50 days ago for this account), @ukr_embassy’s tweets have been grouped into eight types:

1. Calling for World Concern

This concern covers the international careness for moral support, humanitarian needs and arm supplies. Ukraine appears to appreciate those who have given such aids as well as direct ways on how to send support. It has been reported that artists and influencers such as Pink Floyd; Kutcher; Beckham; and street musicians, along with international organizations like UNHCR; FAO; UNPFII; and UNESCO helped provide support. These include solidarity demonstrations in several countries ranging from St. Petersburg; Berlin; to the Global Charity Marathon and social media campaigns, and promoting Ukrainian culture.

2. Documenting the Destruction to Reflect Russia’s Cruelty 

It covers the destruction of Ukrainian cities such as Mariupol; Kyiv; and Bucha, as well as the killing of its people. Public infrastructure such as hospitals; mosques; and residential houses were attacked, while children and journalists were killed, even residents were raped. Beside getting the world’s moral concern, these tweets which are in the form of statistics; photos; and videos, are intended to be evidence of human rights violations against Russia in international courts.

3. Requesting Western or European Assistance

 Among the humanitarian and military assistance they have been requesting, Ukraine proposed to the West particularly NATO; EU; and G7 to get EU membership.

4. Criticizing the Violations of Russia

 It covers proofing  Russia’s allegations to the West and/or Ukraine such as the US biological weapons lab in Ukraine: those have been Russia’s propaganda and provocation that were extracted from disinformation, and exposing their “evilness”  such as the Red Cross flag and the Soviet Union flag put on their military vehicles. Some of these tweets are words from politicians around the world and international organizations.

5. Showing the Ukrainian Persistence

Ukraine has been expressing   winning determination as a proof of existence to the world, as well as appreciating and encouraging  its fighters  and international solidarity movements to keep standing for Ukraine.

6. Calling for Embargo, Boycott, and Sanctions Against Russia

It has been directed to weaken Russia’s forces on its products or sponsors, as well as banning support for Russia.

7. Keeping the Situations in Ukraine Reported Up to Date

It covers informing movements of Russia’s military attacks on some cities in Ukraine, losses of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, and efforts or meetings of Ukrainian governments or international organizations for external support or conflict resolution.

8. Promoting Support from Indonesia and Its Religious Value

Efforts by the Ukrainian Embassy over efforts by Indonesians were seen in having a discussion or interview and visit. The Embassy promotes writings of Indonesian journalists that help reveal the  Ukrainian-Russian conflict, and support from Indonesian politicians; civilian aids; peaceful protests in public Indonesia; influential organizations such as Muhammadiyah; NU; MUI; Baznas RI; and the Archdiocese of Jakarta as well as prominent figures in Indonesia. These include infographic Tweets about Ukrainian-Indonesian good relations, the dramatic situation of fellow Muslim in Ukraine, and words from religious figures in Ukraine.

Number of Tweets of Each Tweet Types by @ukr_embassy Twitter from 9 March-28 April 2022: With Average 11 Tweets Per Day

In conclusion, Russia emphasizes its intention to protect the Ukrainian people who are in persecution by the Ukrainian regime, while projecting its demilitarization and denazification initiative. Antagonizing West for the source of Ukraine’s chaos; world threat and injustice (in their view) is also used to justify their military operations, whilst provocative-serious accusations and bold words to describe them are also those that Russia dares to issue,, to show that Russia cares about world justice. To gain support from Indonesians, Russia generates narratives that ‘sell’ its good relationships with Indonesia politically; economically; historically; and culturally.

On the defensive side, Ukraine often shows its damage; loss; and deaths caused by Russia to get the world’s sympathy that Ukraine is the one who gets violated as the victim of conflict. Ukraine uses much support from international organizations and countries through politicians and influential entities to show that Ukraine is still steadfast and strong to fight Russia. Ukraine also utilizes Twitter to update new reports of the conflict and promote its culture. 

Although not as much as the narratives issued by Russian Twitter, the Ukrainian Embassy generates infographic narratives about its harmonic relationships with Indonesia through their religion; history; and culture to get support from Indonesia. Particularly,  they have been approaching Indonesian religious organizations as  their infographics highlight religious empathy.

Penulis: Ammar Bianda Katon

Reporter: Ammar Bianda Katon

Editor: Fareez Eldacca

Foto: Twitter @RusEmbJakarta @MFA_Ukraine twitter.com/RusEmbJakarta, twitter.com/MFA_Ukraine, data statistik susunan penulis, suara.com, Inews.com

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