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    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds Russian passports meant to prove the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine as he addresses the 51st Munich Security Conference, February 7, 2015

    Poroshenko's Move to Prove Russian Presence in Ukraine Met With Memes

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    Hilarity ensued once social media users jumped to comment on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's presentation of Russian passports at the Munich Security Conference.

    Social media users from Russia and elsewhere were quick to question and disparage Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's showing off of Russian passports, which he says are "the best evidence" of a Russian military presence in Ukraine.

    Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, the Ukrainian President held up several passports which he said belonged to Russian military personnel serving in Ukraine. "I [have taken] with me the passports and military ID of Russian soldiers and officers," Poroshenko told conference attendees. "This is the best evidence for the aggression and for the presence of Russian troops."

    But Twitter users weren't so quick to accept Poroshenko's evidence:

    Others questioned the condition of the documents themselves.

    The documents held up by the president featured three 'internal' passports (an internal travel document used in Russia, similar to a national ID card); a 'military ticket' of the kind given out to all Russian men, whether or not they have served in the military; as well as two passports for international travel, which Russians did not even need to enter Ukraine until recently.

    Serious questions aside, the creative power of the social media soon came to life, with users posting photoshopped images of the Ukrainian president holding various objects ranging from sock puppets and maracas to Pokemon cards and Cheburashka dolls in military fatigues.

    "If they don't buy the passports, next time I'll bring balalaykas," thought Poroshenko.

    Others posted images of what the inside of one of the passports might look like, with one user posting an image of Jason Bourne's passport in the Bourne Identity:

    Another went a step further to really press the point home, featuring the Bourne Identity passport, but with an image of Rocky opponent Ivan Drago with a Russian flag waving behind him.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has since asked the Ukrainian government to provide it with copies of the documents in order to verify their authenticity, but Kiev has thus far been unwilling or unable to do so.

    "We asked the Ukrainian side to give us copies of the documents containing last names, because the IDs such as those shown yesterday could easily be bought," Foreign Ministry official Viktor Sorokin told Russia's RIA Novosti on Sunday. He noted that "document covers like the ones shown yesterday can easily be bought at a street market."

    Last week, Ukraine's Chief of Staff Viktor Muzhenko told Ukrainian television that he had found no evidence that the Russian army was engaged in combat operations in Donetsk and Luhansk.

    Last month, President Poroshenko had alleged that there were up to 9,000 Russian military personnel fighting on the side of the separatist eastern regions. The US State Department has not been able to provide evidence for the allegations, while OSCE observers based at border crossings noted that "there is absolutely no way you can possibly hide huge military formations on a relatively small territory wide open to reporters and OSCE representatives."

    Since the start of Kiev's military assault on eastern Ukraine’s independence supporters in April 2014, Kiev and the West have repeatedly accused Moscow of military intervention in the crisis. The accusers claim that the Russian government has sent troops and weaponry to help local militias, claims which Russian officials have repeatedly denied for lack of evidence.

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    Tags:
    social media, commentary, Munich Security Conference, Petro Poroshenko, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Munich
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