The Russian Embassy in the U.K. has a long history of trolling people (and entire countries) on Twitter in a snarky way that consistently goes viral. They’re a little like the Wendy’s Twitter handle in their dismissive tone. But, unlike Wendy’s, the Russians are joking about killing spies and hacking foreign elections, rather than serving better burgers than McDonald’s.
They’ve had a lot of tweets in the past few years that have thrown barbs at the United States, and they particularly disliked President Barack Obama. After the former president expelled 35 Russian diplomats, the embassy tweeted “everybody, including [American citizens] will be glad to see the last of his hapless administration.”
The next day, they sent out a tweet saying that the “American people [are] humiliated by [their] own president.”
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
MFA: American people humiliated by its own President pic.twitter.com/Ka9ThFSlkp— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 30, 2016
Sometimes they even take a line from the pro-Trump trolls that linger on Twitter—like that one time they tweeted out a Pepe meme:
The account only has 62,000 followers but they’ve gained a whole lot of attention. The Washington Post ran a profile on them last April, titled “How the Russian Embassy in London uses Twitter to undermine the West.” And they utilize some pretty snappy tactics; often tagging bigger accounts to boost engagement and sometimes even get those accounts to engage with them.
More than anything, the account seems interested in creating chaos in the West.
In April, a London communications professor explained the account to The Guardian by saying “[It] is trying to sow mistrust and disaffection. It’s pretty marginal…but it has a nice marginal impact, and Russia Today and Sputnik have the same goals.”
In their piece, The Guardian theorized that ambassador Alexander Kramarenko might be behind the account, based on previous statements that he’s made.
On Thursday morning, the account trolled back into the headlines with a slew of tweets about former British spy, Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned over the weekend. The Russians have denied involvement in Skripal’s death. And in their Tuesday morning tweets, the Russian Embassy account took issue with the description of Skripal as a “Russian spy.”
He was actually a British spy, working for MI6 pic.twitter.com/PPAcE8a9vz— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 8, 2018
Later, the account lamented that in previous suspicious deaths, “there was a lot of speculation in the media, then all the conclusions were classified, and no data provided to Russia.”
MFA: when Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Perepilichny died in Britain, there was a lot of speculation in the media, then all the conclusions were classified, and no data provided to Russia. Same happening now, with MI6 agent Sergei Skripal poisoning pic.twitter.com/x7cdTQRpZQ— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 8, 2018
While the substance of their tweets varies, the Russian Embassy’s Twitter account keeps the same tone of voice in their snarkier tweets. It’s a blend of victimization and a masterful troll that you might find in several of the more popular far-right accounts on Twitter.
The account sometimes accuses people of being “Russophobic” and often paints the Russians as being the scapegoats of the West. In a tweet from Wednesday, they wrote “presumption of innocence 2.0: no idea what happened, no idea why it happened, but Russians are to blame,” and they’ve blamed the U.S. for meddling in other countries’ affairs.
In other instances, you’ll notice them openly trolling, like this tweet, which could’ve been written by Trump if you replace a few words:
While there are probably a lot of takeaways that we can draw from the account, the most obvious one is that Russians actors are just really good at social media. Even without scores of followers, they’re making ripples on Twitter. And they’ve done that in the United States as well: the huge troll account TEN_GOP amassed tens of thousands of followers before it was shut down.
The only difference here is the Russians aren’t even hiding their cards.