US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt seems to have had a busy past couple of days on Twitter, spending what seems like hours posting, retweeting, and commenting on events. Among his posts were another series of dubious and unsubstantiated statements about Russia's military involvement in Ukraine, raising the ire of posters weary of the constant claims of Russian involvement without the provision of any proof.
The latest and most ridiculous of his alleged proofs was a tweet quoting a mysterious witness about the presence of Russian soldiers in Ukraine:
"It is no secret that the Russian army is here. My wife runs a small shop and some men only wanted to pay in rubles. They are Russian!"— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) 24 февраля 2015
Making the post available only in English, instead of the usual English, Russian and Ukrainian, users quickly jumped to attack the odd 'revelation', asking the ambassador to provide at least a bare minimum of details with regard to the claim, i.e. where did it come from, who made it?
— Daniel McAdams (@DanielLMcAdams) 24 февраля 2015
"Diagnosis is Clear"
Earlier in the day, Pyatt had made a number of posts restating tired old allegations ruminating in US and Ukrainian media since last summer. Twitter users responded with sarcasm:
Russian military personnel have participated in the recent attacks on Vuhlehirsk and Debaltseve.— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) 25 февраля 2015
— Maxim Repin (@MaxRepin) 25 февраля 2015
@GeoffPyatt Хватит бредить. Частей ВС РФ там нет. Иначе бы Псаки и компания уже завалила весь мир разговорами с картинками.— Дмитрий Дмитриев (@DmitrievDiman) 25 февраля 2015
"Enough nonsense. Russian armed forces were not there. If they were, Psaki and co. would have flooded the world with pictures and commentary."
Others recalled the misadventures of US diplomacy from earlier this century:
Ivan: "Believing the statements made by American diplomats is a dangerous undertaking."
Others still focused on the ambassador's status as a diplomat:
Geoffrey Pyatt: "The separatists in eastern Ukraine at this point are a de facto extension of Russian military and an instrument of Russian national power."
Vyacheslav Morosov: "A question to you Mr. Pyatt: are you a diplomat or a worker in the ministry of propaganda, or is it the situation now in the #USA that all dipomats are propagandists?"
Other users reminded fellow readers to be weary about Mr. Pyatt's claims, given his own personal history in the coup d'état in the Ukraine last year:
Ambassador Pyatt had first gained a measure of international notoriety following a leaked conversation with US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland earlier last year, where the two discussed plans for a government in Kiev following negotiations with then-president Viktor Yanukovich, who was overthrown by pro-US politicians shortly thereafter.
Back in 2013, Mr. Pyatt commented on his views of Twitter diplomacy, telling Ukrainian journal Den' that "sometimes there are not enough characters. Diplomacy, international relations involve long abstract concepts. And sometimes that does not fit well into the characters of a Twitter message." When it comes to making allegations about Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine, perhaps Twitter is the perfect platform for Mr. Pyatt and the State Department. It requires little effort, no pesky need to back up statements with evidence, and above all, requires little if any thought. Perhaps it's time for Mr. Pyatt to get back to real diplomacy.