Instead of trying to find some sort of compromise, the sides of an online disagreement double down on their arguments, quickly moving to threats, ad hominem attacks, and comparisons to Hitler. The disagreement turns into a flame-war, both sides convinced the opponent is stupid and/or disingenuous. Sound familiar? Sadly, this is what is happening on the RuNet with regard to the Crimean conflict. Memes and image macros lend themselves to polarizing rhetoric, not nuanced argument. But, hey, some of them are pretty funny!
This jingoistic meme plays on the jocular way of calling anonymous troops occupying Crimea “the polite folks,” connecting the phrase to the Winter Olympics slogan, “Hot, Cool, Yours.” It's counterproductive, however, to diminish the significance of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory by emphasizing their politeness. They might be polite, but they still have guns.
Similarly, Russian troops aren't tourists. One might argue that this meme makes fun of Putin's hypocrisy in refusing to aknowledge Russian presence in Crimea, but I have only seen it in contexts where it serves as tacit approval of the deception (the exclamation is one clue.)
Another example of jingoism and turning the word “polite” into a threat. Yes, Russia has a Navy in the Black Sea that is much more capable that the Ukrainian Navy (in fact, just two days ago they had blocked the Ukrainian Navy base by sinking a old ship in the entrance [ru]). This meme is particularly funny because of the Russian Naval naming convention — all light ships like destroyers are named with personal adjectives (i.e. Quick, Brave, Dauntless, etc.)
On the other side, an image such is this is also counterproductive. Sure, it's funny because it's a hyperbole poking fun at Russia's transparent claims that their troops are part of a “spontaneously-organized” Crimean militia. At the same time, it denies any agency to actual Crimean self-organized militia (which does exist), and escalates the discourse from machines guns to ICBMs.
Another Sochi joke. This one is harder to classify, but can definitely be used by both sides. See, Russians are so bloodthirsty even their plush toys ride tanks. See, Ukrainians are so pathetic all we need are plush toys to take them over. Yes, the Olympics have been tainted by politicking and aggression, next you'll tell me there is no Santa.
Russian TV spreads a lot of propaganda about the presence of so-called “Banderovites,” or followers of Ukrainian nationalist and alleged war criminal Stepan Bandera, among the protesters who toppled Yanukovich's government. Thing is, these radicals might make up a small percentage of the protesters, but they are vocal, they do exist, and they are hostile to Russians and Russian culture. But no, Stepan Bandera's giant heads don't ride around on UFOs. That's true.
The hoax that an American Aircraft Carrier Group has entered the Black Sea might be the most dangerous of them all. Memes 7 and 8, which perpetuate this hoax, serve to give unfounded hopes of US military assistance to the Ukrainians, and unfounded fears of US military intervention to the Russians. Never mind that according to international treaties, a carrier could never in fact enter the Black Sea. Furthermore, the caption is ironic, considering that some Russians are already accusing the Americans of organizing the Maidan protests.
9.Ridiculing Russia's troops because they are multi-ethnic might not be the best idea, if you want to convince the world you aren't a xenophobic nationalist.
Remember that time you compared someone you disagreed with to Hitler, and they were totally convinced by your line of argument, and apologized? Me neither.
And so the “polemic” continues.
But wait, Putin isn't the only Evil Overlord (TM)!
And if we are going to be jingoistic, why not go all the way?
And so, the war continues to rage between Russian and Ukrainian “geopolitical experts.”
But whatever you do, never discount cloying professions of friendship!