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15 Memes That Escalate the Crimean Crisis

Instead of trying to find some sort of compromise, the sides of an online disagreement double down on their arguments, quickly moving to threats, ad hominem attacks, and comparisons to Hitler. The disagreement turns into a flame-war, both sides convinced the opponent is stupid and/or disingenuous. Sound familiar? Sadly, this is what is happening on the RuNet with regard to the Crimean conflict. Memes and image macros lend themselves to polarizing rhetoric, not nuanced argument. But, hey, some of them are pretty funny!

1.

"Polite. Russian. Yours" Anonymous image found online.

“Polite. Russian. Yours.” Anonymous image found online.

This jingoistic meme plays on the jocular way of calling anonymous troops occupying Crimea “the polite folks,” connecting the phrase to the Winter Olympics slogan, “Hot, Cool, Yours.” It's counterproductive, however, to diminish the significance of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory by emphasizing their politeness. They might be polite, but they still have guns.

2.

"Organized Russian tourists travel to Crimea en masse"

“Organized Russian tourists travel to Crimea, en masse! Anonymous image found online.”

Similarly, Russian troops aren't tourists. One might argue that this meme makes fun of Putin's hypocrisy in refusing to aknowledge Russian presence in Crimea, but I have only seen it in contexts where it serves as tacit approval of the deception (the exclamation is one clue.)

3.

Russian destroyer "The Polite." Word bubble reads "The Gracious and The Courteous are right behind me"

Russian destroyer “The Polite.” Word bubble reads “The Gracious and The Courteous are right behind me.” Anonymous image found online.

Another example of jingoism and turning the word “polite” into a threat. Yes, Russia has a Navy in the Black Sea that is much more capable that the Ukrainian Navy (in fact, just two days ago they had blocked the Ukrainian Navy base by sinking a old ship in the entrance [ru]). This meme is particularly funny because of the Russian Naval naming convention — all light ships like destroyers are named with personal adjectives (i.e. Quick, Brave, Dauntless, etc.)

4.

"We are just a people's militia"

“We are just a people's militia” Anonymous image found online.

On the other side, an image such is this is also counterproductive. Sure, it's funny because it's a hyperbole poking fun at Russia's transparent claims that their troops are part of a “spontaneously-organized” Crimean militia. At the same time, it denies any agency to actual Crimean self-organized militia (which does exist), and escalates the discourse from machines guns to ICBMs.

5.

Leopard, Bunny, and Bear - Sochi Olympic Mascots.

Leopard, Bunny, and Bear – Sochi Olympic Mascots. Anonymous image found online.

Another Sochi joke. This one is harder to classify, but can definitely be used by both sides. See, Russians are so bloodthirsty even their plush toys ride tanks. See, Ukrainians are so pathetic all we need are plush toys to take them over. Yes, the Olympics have been tainted by politicking and aggression, next you'll tell me there is no Santa.

6.

"Banderovsty are attacking Crimea!"

“Banderovites are attacking Crimea!” Anonymous image found online.

Russian TV spreads a lot of propaganda about the presence of so-called “Banderovites,” or followers of Ukrainian nationalist and alleged war criminal Stepan Bandera, among the protesters who toppled Yanukovich's government. Thing is, these radicals might make up a small percentage of the protesters, but they are vocal, they do exist, and they are hostile to Russians and Russian culture. But no, Stepan Bandera's giant heads don't ride around on UFOs. That's true.

7.

"Maidan Self-Defence Forces.  The American company." Anonymous image found online.

“Maidan Self-Defence Forces. The American company.” Anonymous image found online.

The hoax that an American Aircraft Carrier Group has entered the Black Sea might be the most dangerous of them all. Memes 7 and 8, which perpetuate this hoax, serve to give unfounded hopes of US military assistance to the Ukrainians, and unfounded fears of US military intervention to the Russians. Never mind that according to international treaties, a carrier could never in fact enter the Black Sea. Furthermore, the caption is ironic, considering that some Russians are already accusing the Americans of organizing the Maidan protests.

8.

"#aquamaidan" (a play on #euromaidan). Anonymous image found online.

“#aquamaidan” (a play on #euromaidan). Anonymous image found online.

9.

"[Eskimo] not conqueror, [Eskimo] guard" Anonymous image found online.

“[Eskimo] not conqueror, [Eskimo] guard” Anonymous image found online.

Ridiculing Russia's troops because they are multi-ethnic might not be the best idea, if you want to convince the world you aren't a xenophobic nationalist.

10.

Putin is a Nazi. Clearly.

Putin is a Nazi. Clearly. Anonymous image found online.

Remember that time you compared someone you disagreed with to Hitler, and they were totally convinced by your line of argument, and apologized? Me neither.

11.

"If Putin is Hitler, then shouldn't followers of Stepan Bandera listen to him?" Anonymous image found online.

“If Putin is Hitler, then shouldn't followers of Stepan Bandera listen to him?” Anonymous image found online.

 And so the “polemic” continues.

12.

Obama hungry. Obama eat Ukraine. Anonymous image found online.

Obama hungry. Obama eat Ukraine. Anonymous image found online.

But wait, Putin isn't the only Evil Overlord (TM)!

13.

"Capitol Hill really needs a new exterior design" to make it look like the Kremlin. Anonymous image found online.

“Capitol Hill really needs a new exterior design” to make it look like the Kremlin. Anonymous image found online.

And if we are going to be jingoistic, why not go all the way?

14.

On the right,

On the left, the “Sofa Self-Defense Company, #eurosofa” On the right, “Sofa forces, the Slow Response Group.” Anonymous image found online.

And so, the war continues to rage between Russian and Ukrainian “geopolitical experts.”

15.

I think the term of art is "puking rainbows." Anonymous image found online.

Anonymous image found online.

But whatever you do, never discount cloying professions of friendship!

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