Oh the virtues of the selfie, and social media. This combination has spelled trouble for couples, singletons, celebrities, and criminals the world over. Most notably in recent times, it’s spelt a wee bit of trouble for Russia and its fearsome leader, Putin. 24 year old Sanya Sotkin’s Instagram feed is absolutely rife with selfies, which isn’t uncommon, sadly. Unusually, however, his images are geotagged within Ukrainian territory, and more precisely, inside areas seemingly under rebel control, and some are a skip away from the location of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 that was shot down some two weeks ago, taking with it all 298 souls onboard.
Why are his images so controversial? It seems Sotkin is part of the Russian Army, and Russia claims it is uninvolved in the current civil conflict in the Ukraine, and of course, no involvement with the downed airliner. This begs the question then, what is a Russian Army member, who has posted that he “still [doesn’t] understand what we’re doing here, so we’re continuing to go slightly crazy, listen to #swedishhousemafia and wait for new news from Ukraine!” doing there, and in those specific locations.
Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe by area, and the history of the Crimean war is somewhat telling of what’s been going on these past months. Back then there was great fear by the European nations that Russia would expand its empire as the Ottoman Empire began to decline.Their sense of unity and the huge fight that ensued managed to defeat Russia, though the planet would be greeted by the first World War not long after. Then Ukraine had its fair share of civil fighting, mainly when Ukraine did become part of Russia, though that ended somewhat poorly under Stalin. Much of the troubles sort of began here, and extend to this day from this. Anyway, without a massive history lesson, suffice to say that these two countries have a long and varied warring history, and photos like this, can turn out to be quite damning – especially given the downing of MH17.
I should note here that there has been some speculation that Sotkin wasn’t in fact, as he stated, a communications man in the Russian Army, but a border guard. I don’t know enough about the ranking and uniforms to say, but it doesn’t seem to be negating the fact that this one young man’s Instagram feed is causing a stir from both sides and international media.