Twiplomacy and the War: Untangling networked practices of Russian diplomats during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine

From the 18th until the 21st of November Miriam Milzner (Freie University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) had the great opportunity to participate in the three-day AoIR conference in Philadelphia, PA, USA.

The 2023 AoIR conference explored the themes of revolutions, examining their inherent promises and failures in connection to digital technologies. It delved into the involvement of digital technologies in revolutionary initiatives and explored how discussions surrounding revolutions have manifested in projects concerning social justice, the restructuring of social orders, and the corporate exploitation of revolutionary commitments. 

In this light, Miriam Milzner presented her work “Twiplomacy and the War: Untangling networked practices of Russian diplomats during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine”. This study is currently conducted together with Dr. Anna Litvinenko from the Freie Universität Berlin. Focused on the multi-level strategy of Russia of spreading digital propaganda and disinformation to legitimize its aggression against Ukraine, the study examines the changes in Russia’s digital diplomatic practices following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The study combines network and frame analysis to investigate the communication’s content and structure comprehensively. Observant of the role of Russian diplomats in this propaganda system, the study concentrates on a sample of all active Twitter accounts of Russian embassies and consulates located in Germany, analyzing their tweets from three critical periods: three months before the invasion, three months after the invasion, and three months before the anniversary of the full-scale war. The research identifies several practices utilized by diplomatic accounts and reveals significant changes in the networks of these accounts after the full-scale invasion. 

We thank AoIR for the opportunity to present and discuss our work and for the chance to actively delve into these intricate and pivotal questions!