The Kremlin’s Twitter trolling game is positively on fire right now.
When President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he had issued an executive order sanctioning Russia in retaliation for its cyber shenanigans and attempts to influence the US election, many feared a swift and potentially dangerous response from the Kremlin.
And indeed, the initial response from the Kremlin suggested as much: A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that Putin would order an "appropriate" retaliation to the sanctions, which also included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the United States. And Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova issued a statement warning that “if Washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer.”
But despite those vaguely threatening initial statements, the Russian response so far has actually been pretty tame — and, to be perfectly honest, pretty funny. Instead of turning around and expelling American diplomats from Russia or launching provocative military maneuvers, the Kremlin has responded with snarky statements and tweets trolling Obama.
This is not your daddy’s Cold War.
One of the first ones came Thursday from the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in the UK, making fun of “lame duck” Obama:
President Obama expels 35 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 29, 2016
Then, early Friday morning, the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in the United States launched another doozy, announcing that Putin was inviting the children of all American diplomats in Russia to attend a New Year’s and Christmas celebration:
#Putin: Moreover, I am inviting all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year's & Christmas celebration in the Kremlin pic.twitter.com/1LGkrQQzLA— Russia in USA (@RusEmbUSA) December 30, 2016
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account followed that up a few hours later with a sassy tweet mocking the Obama administration for the expulsion of the 35 Russian diplomats, joking that even “-35 is not cold enough” to deter Russians from working.
The #US on Thursday expelled 35 Russian diplomats, but we are #STILLATWORK, -35 is not cold enough :) pic.twitter.com/Ehm2H8ESs8— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) December 30, 2016
And then there was this gem, again from the Russian Embassy in the UK:
Kremlin`s response to @BarackObama `s expulsions: Winston Churchill: in victory magnanimity. pic.twitter.com/0xlJwSpUdv— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 30, 2016
Russia may be an aggressive, expansionist world power with a massive nuclear arsenal that is actively trying to subvert American democracy and is committing horrific war crimes against thousands of innocent Syrians on a daily basis, but you’ve got to hand it to them: When it comes to Twitter trolling, they really are the world’s leading superpower.