Social media and Russian territorial irredentism: some facts and a conjecture

24 Jan 2020

(Post-Soviet Affairs) (Authored with Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld) Abstract: After Kremlin policymakers decided to incorporate the territory of Crimea into Russia, updates on public attitudes in Russian-speaking communities elsewhere in Ukraine would have been in high demand. Because social media users produce content in order to communicate ideas to their social networks, online political discourse can provide important clues about the political dispositions of communities. We map the evolution of Russian-speakers’ attitudes, expressed on social media, across the course of the conflict as Russian analysts might have observed them at the time. Results suggest that the Russian-Ukrainian interstate border only moved as far as their military could have advanced while incurring no occupation costs – Crimea, and no further.

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