Russia, Ukraine and The West: Social Media Reactions to the Mounting Crisis

Sasha Maksymenko

What started as a ‘people’s revolution’ in Kyiv has spread to ‘foreign invasion’ in Crimea, as the future of the Ukraine hangs in the balance. Pandeia’s Jamie Timson, Daria Sukharchuk,  and Rebecca Thorning Wine look at the reaction to the crisis across social media in Russia and the UK.

Since Saturday evening, when President Putin  officially declared his intent to deploy the Russian army in Crimea, both countries have been living in a state of constant anxiety, eager for more news. Major media outlets worked all night, providing fresh news of the crisis. Countless editorials appeared, speculating about the consequences of the situation and reasons behind this decision, and ‒ most importantly  ‒ the possible economic sanctions facing Russia.

An hour after the Federation Council (upper house of Russian parliament) had ratified Putin’s decision, the first unrest spread across  social media and small scale protests could be seen in Moscow from Saturday.


On Sunday, 2nd of March, hundreds of people in Moscow and St. Petersburg went to demonstrations for and against military action in Crimea . All of them proclaimed peace in Ukraine as their ultimate goal ‒ but disagreed upon the actions that should be taken.

In Crimea meanwhile, the tension quickly escalated as the Russians took control of the Navy base in Simferopol and as this video shows, wasted no time in marking their territory:

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// Not all of the social media reaction from the region was completely negative, with some Crimeans beginning to take photos with the Soldiers.

This reaction to the presence of Russian soldiers may say more about the predominance of ethnic Russians who live in the area than the supposed civility of the impending conflict.

In Moscow, intervention supporters  marched around the ring of boulevards in the centre. Most of them were Putin supporters, and members of ationalistic, Orthodox Christian and communist organisations, with slogans emphasising unity of Russia and Ukraine.

Anti-war protests took place on Manezhnaya square, next to the Kremlin wall in Moscow, and at Isaakievskaya  square in St. Petersburg.

“I see some 300 people…”

At least 200 people were arrested (the number differs across sources).

Arresting the demonstrators in St. Petersburg: people began screaming “Shame!” and “Berkut” (the name of infamous Ukrainian military police that fought with activists on Maidan in Kiev).

Задержания. Люди кричали беркут, позор. #нетвойне #спб

UK Reaction

The BBC were quick to get their former US ambassador Christopher Meyer’s viewpoint:

While The Sun helpfully came up with this graphic laden image to explain the conflict:

Protests weren’t confined solely to affected region, as demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square in Westminster:

The Telegraph led with a story which suggests Angela Merkel has questioned whether Putin is in touch with reality:

Meanwhile The Guardian produced a graphic to show the military imbalance between Ukraine and Russia:


* European Updates to Follow*


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