In this line of work, you grow pretty accustomed to reading between the lines in diplomatic correspondence. Aside from President Trump, most national figures and diplomats have a way of dancing around a subject through clever phrasing and word choices, ensuring that even the most damning of accusations are delivered in a manner that retains the social high ground. This linguistic tap dancing is a mainstay of American diplomacy — aiming to keep feathers from getting too ruffled in some instances, and providing added weight to more direct and aggressive statements when they’re deemed necessary.
The advent of social media has added an additional medium for formal communications to take place between government officials and even whole governments — and contrary to what many may think, that is not the result of President Trump’s prolific Twitter usage. With many state officials and national governments maintaining an active Twitter presence, it’s to be expected that diplomatic opponents will occasionally find themselves squaring off in the digital sphere. Often, these spats are about as exciting to watch unfold as an argument about TV shows at your nearest retirement home thanks to the neutered diplomatic responses bandied about by officials that may harbor strong opinions, but prefer to avoid creating an international incident by elevating the rhetoric of the debate. As a result, debates between official government entities are often short-lived and ripe with common talking points: in effect, they’re light on debate and heavy on re-purposed quotations and formal government statements.
But not with Russia. Ironically, although the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov famously stated that Russia does “not participate in Twitter diplomacy,” they absolutely do — and they’re pretty damn sassy about it at that.
That first tweet is from State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, a common facet of American diplomacy on social media. Her posts often carry the diplomatic air that we’ve come to expect from a person that’s speaking on behalf of a government. The response she got from the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official account, however, seems more like something you’d expect to see in a tiff between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.