Diplomacy as social media saves the Ukrainian Crimea

For three years every mention of the Ukrainian Crimea, we have to add painful for all of us wording: “temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation”.

From the beginning of the armed aggression against Ukraine, Russia is struggling to create an impression, they say, the Crimea issue “finally resolved”.

Of course, they still did not succeed. And will not achieve. Even massive propaganda did not allow the Kremlin to legitimize their own crime, and never hide the illegality of the attempted annexation. The world recognizes Russia a violator of international law and a country-occupier, and the affiliation of Crimea to Ukraine is not questioned any civilized country in the world. Geographical and political maps in the Ministry of foreign Affairs of all States, the Crimea remains Ukrainian.

The efforts of the Ukrainian diplomacy has achieved results. Even if it is outrageous Russian diplomats (for example, was the case with Lavrov at the talks in the Normandy format — I think in 2016).

Happen, however, and annoying bugs.

Remember that delegation is one of our most important partners during international events posted a tweet in support of Ukraine. However… someone from their social media team “unsuccessfully googled” and added in a tweet map of Ukraine, where the Crimea was marked by a slightly different color.

It’s good that we noticed, our delegation immediately went to the colleagues and tweet corrected.

But can we be sure that such mistakes are insured and ordinary citizens?

Who can guarantee that in a hypothetical state X, in educational atlases for school children, depicted Crimea as part of Ukraine? And there will be enough effort by the entire diplomatic corps, in order to find bugs and make sure they are fixed?

Unfortunately, mistakes — even unconsciously — sometimes happen. They can be in a tweet, and the textbook, and in the advertising image… Not all foreign citizens know the real situation in such a distant to them in Ukraine, not everyone even heard about aggression, and this is very good for Russia.

Therefore, before the Ukrainian diplomats who represent the country’s interests abroad, there was a need to keep track of all the incorrect designation of the Crimea.

But in the twenty-first century diplomacy is not limited to the “traditional dimension”. Social media shapes the worldview of millions. Where government diplomacy needs support on the scene of public diplomacy.

It became apparent that identifying the incorrect notation of Crimea needs to attract the public.

For this winter of 2016, Ukraine’s foreign Ministry has launched a project #CrimeaMap.

It was important for us to make the project as accessible and open, because signals must be received from all over the world — and of the Ukrainians and foreign citizens.

We asked the activists for their pages on Facebook and Twitter to attract the attention of domestic and foreign public to the facts incorrect designation of the Crimea. And last but not least — ask the Ukrainian diplomats abroad to cover cases of correction of such errors to more ordinary foreigners hear: “Crimea is Ukraine” and was aware of the illegal actions of Russia on the Peninsula.

I admit, the enthusiasm with which the public picked up the idea of the project was even more than we expected. Successful cases of correction of an incorrect designation of the Crimea today is really a lot. This, no doubt, to the great credit of our diplomats, and active, caring community.

The scheme has already worked: once the Embassy finds out about the wrong image of the Crimea on the map in the host country, diplomats in touch with the company, TV station or publishing house that made a mistake, and continue to contact them until they will take all necessary measures until it is fixed or until there is public clarification and recognition of mistakes from foreign representative.

British victory

One of the first examples of the effectiveness established of the project was the case with the British publisher Oxford University Press, which published socio-economic Atlas of the world in 2016, which depicts the Crimean part of the Russian Federation.

Embassy of Ukraine in the UK, find the incident that sent the publishing house a letter with a request to correct the error.

Now this issue is solved. Oxford University Press has reissued the Atlas in the new version, which indicates that according to international law Crimea is territory of Ukraine.

This tutorial also added background information that the UN does not recognize Crimea as part of Russian territory, and most countries, including the UK, condemned the illegal “referendum” in 2014 on the Peninsula.

In addition, Oxford University Press has published on its website the message, where was noted, that the publisher is willing to exchange for free tutorial with errors on its updated version.

Polish support

Of course, for us especially important was the identification and correction of errors of our neighbors, the poles.

In early 2016 the Embassy of Ukraine in Poland addressed to the Polish publishing house “Studio PLAN”, which is the owner of the site Galileos.pl with a request to correct an error in their product. They released the political map of Europe, in the printed version which the Crimea marked as Russian territory.

The reaction of the Director of the Polish publishing house was instantaneous.

He appealed to the Ukrainian Embassy with a letter in which he said that he decided to stop the sale of the card to adjust it.

A similar situation occurred with the project “the First step of integration” realized by the Polish society “Vox Humana” and in which he published a book for children entitled “Childhood in different countries”. In the section on Ukraine, was mistakenly posted the map on which the Crimea joined Russia.

In the end, the publisher has published on its official website a retraction with an apology and promised in all the available copies of the book to paste the correct map, which confirms territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.


A separate part of this project is online maps. The correction of incorrect designation of the Crimea in such cases there is some difficulty because online maps are sometimes matters where you are viewing.

For example, if you go to an online map from the territory of Russia, the Crimean Peninsula will be marked as Russian territory. But if the same card to go from a Ukrainian ip address, the situation will change dramatically: the Crimean Peninsula will be listed as it really is: the territory of Ukraine.

However, there is success. German daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost fixed incorrect marking of the Crimea on the interactive map “the Migration atlas — where do Berliners come from?”. After requests from our diplomats to the leadership newspaper on radar elevation map of the Crimea appeared the inscription “territory of Ukraine” with the words “occupied by the Russian Federation”.

Help readers

One of the last cases, the incorrect image of Crimea helped to learn the Ukrainians living in Germany.

The Peninsula as part of Russia appeared on maps in textbooks for teaching German to immigrants, developed by the TELC (The European Language Certificates) by order of the Federal office for migration and refugees.

Our Embassy in Germany quickly turned to TELC, and to the German interior Ministry, which governs the Agency. “European truth”, which first reported the incident already cited and the explanations of the publisher and, most importantly, wrote about the joint victory of diplomats, activists and common sense: in Germany, decided to hold a free replacement of textbooks with the wrong map.

And in those cases where the textbook has been found in students, teachers must notify their error and to emphasize that the Crimea is Ukraine.

The examples given are only a small part of the victories of the campaign #CrimeaMap in different parts of the world.

Sometimes errors appear in regional media publishing houses or small and sometimes associated with state resources or international corporations that are trusted by a large number of people around the world.

The Ukrainian foreign Ministry is working on how to more effectively bring the truth to foreign nationals. The scope of work within one of the projects to prevent the spread of Russian propaganda in Crimea is huge.

Therefore, we ask everyone to join an existing project #CrimeaMap and inform Ukrainian diplomats about the incorrect designation of the Crimea on the maps.