Russia says it’s not invading Ukraine – selfies prove otherwise

Selfies can get annoying, and the selfie stick may be the worst invention since the vuvuzela.  However, never in my wildest dreams did I think that selfies would reach the point when they started to affect international affairs.  And yet, as noted by Vox and Vice News:

Vice News’s Simon Ostrovsky, in a new report, tracks the social media postings of a Russian soldier to prove that Putin is lying and that Russia is in fact at war in Ukraine.

The entire story is worth reading; it juxtaposes Ostrovsky in the same positions as a Russian soldier named Bato Dambaev.  The photos show Dambaev near Ukraine, and then IN Ukraine.  In other words, the invasion has, more or less, already begun.

This isn’t the first time I have written about how the stupidity of soldiers is now literally getting people killed; less than two weeks ago, I wrote about how an ISIS selfie resulted in an airstrike on the command compound in which the selfie was taken.  And, in August of last year, a similar story revealed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well.

It’s pretty astounding to me that, in a society as secretive as Russia, the military allows it’s members to hold onto their own personal communication devices.  I would hope that, this being the case, the military (and really, any military!) would make sure to put a premium on training: “Hey, guys, if we are engaged in covert operations, maybe no selfies, mmmm ‘k?”

And yet, here we are.  Who needs military intelligence when you can rely on the egotism of young men?

Soldier’s Instagram account may prove Russian involvement in Ukraine

Social media has found itself in some pretty amazing places – national revolutions, divorces – but here’s a new one: international affairs and previously covert operations.  According to an article by Buzzfeed, the Instagram account of a Russian soldier may prove that Russia is operating in Ukraine.

A series of posts by Russian soldier Alexander Sotkin appear to show Sotkin, a member of the Russian military, inside of Ukraine.  The evidence for the location is captions uploaded by Sotkin, as well as the geolocating tool that comes with Instagram uploads.  Buzzfeed refers to geolocating as “highly accurate.”

Even more astounding is that Sotkin isn’t the first Russian soldier who appeared to be using social media to give away his location and potentially embarrass his country.  Last week, another Russian soldier, Vadmin Grigoriev, uploaded pictures to the Russian social media site, VK.  The pictures showed artillery damage, and captions from Grigoriev said that troops had been “shelling Ukraine all night,” something which Ukraine had been claiming Russia was doing:

RussianArmyShelingUkraine

Grigoriev later went on Russian state TV and said his account had been hacked.  Sound familiar?  As noted by ThinkProgress, the issue has become so problematic that a “representative in the country’s parliament has now proposed a new law that would make it illegal for soldiers to post pictures posing with military equipment.”

This is, without a doubt, one of the more bizarre blog entries that I have ever written.  I never thought I’d see the day where previously covert military operations were being uploaded to social media, where major news outlets would capture the posts and display them for all the world to see.  You would really think that common sense would impose some limits, but here we are, using the words “selfie” and “international politics” in the same sentence.

I’ll try, for a moment, to bring this back to the real world, and as bizarre as this is, there are ramifications here for the average person: always use caution with what you take a picture of and upload.  The last thing any elected official ever wants to do is find themselves in a position where they upload something that they should not have.  If you are taking a picture with others, always make sure you have their consent before taking and uploading the picture.  Never take a picture of anything that is confidential or proprietary.  Never repeat secret conversations.  And for God’s sake, if you are in the military, don’t make any uploads to social media from a mobile device that can pinpoint your nearly exact location!!

Sheesh.