The countries were sparring over the historical origins of Anna Yaroslavna, an 11th-century figure
The dispute stemmed from recent comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin
The world witnessed another ground-breaking use of GIF diplomacy on Tuesday, when the official Twitter account for the country of Ukraine mocked the official account for Russia with a Simpsons GIF.
The countries were sparring over the historical origins of Anna Yaroslavna, an 11th-century figure born in Kievan Rus – then federated territory surrounding Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine – and who went on to become queen of France.
The dispute arose after Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the French queen as “Russian Anne” during a news conference this week with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Putin’s remark was seen by critics as an attempt to blur the line between Russian and Ukrainian history. And the apparent effort to appropriate a historical figure reverberated in the context of the ongoing conflict over Crimea.
Ukraine’s first tweet makes the point that Russia’s capital, Moscow, was undeveloped at the time of Anne’s coronation, suggesting it would be wrong for the country of Russia to claim Anne of Kiev as part of their history.
“When @Russia says Anne de Kiev established Russia-France relations, let us remind the sequence of events,” Ukraine wrote. Included below the tweet is a picture of Anna Yaroslavna, a caption recounting her reign, and a picture of undeveloped forest with the caption “Meanwhile, in Moscow…”
Russia countered by pointing out that the Cathedral of St. Sophia had been built around the same time in Veliky Novogrod, which is now one of the oldest cities in Russia. In the 11th century, it resided in the territory of Kievan Rus, to which Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus – whose flag was included in Russia’s tweet – all claim cultural and historical links.
“We are proud of our common history. (Russia), (Ukraine), and (Belarus) share the same historical heritage which should unite our nations, not divide us,” Russia wrote.
Ukraine’s response to Russia needs little explanation – the exasperation communicated by a well-timed Simpsons meme is something that social media users in 2017 know well.
“You really don’t change, do you?” Ukraine wrote, above a GIF from “The Simpsons” that depicted a Russian official cackling while a name plate flipped from “Russia” to “Soviet Union.”