Not a few journalists these past few days have had a slightly “ironic” tone to their reporting as they lay out Russia’s formal messaging around the Ukraine crisis underway. Russia, via Putin and his diplomatic and media cadre have issued a variety of statements. So we decided to conduct some quick analysis of their key claims. Because well, it reminded some of us (who are older than we want to admit) of the RealPolitik type of statements we heard from the USSR during the Cold War. If people weren’t the least bit skeptical then, they are certainly more so today.
Who Believes Russia’s Statements of Pure Sweet Innocence?
Not many it seems. Our overall sample size was n=50,000 and we winnowed it down from there to take a quicker snapshot of sentiment (running 2 third-party tools) over the three main claims made by Russia as a token of it’s intent to be principled in it’s action. Looks like no one really believes these statements doesn’t it? Kind of like Cold War Soviet Rhetoric?
The three main statements have been a) exercises conducted [at strategic locations) over the weekend were just “routine”, b) It is actually independent “local militia” guarding Ukrainian military bases in the Crimea and c) the “ICBM test” was simply “routine” today. Overwhelmingly, these are seen as untrue statements. The sample size represents English speaking comments in social media in the USA, Canada, UK and Germany.
So What About All Out War?
We then wanted to look, quickly, at what people think may happen in terms of war from social media and news media comments (we polled [scraped for text data, no blobs] BBC, MSNBC, NBC, CBC, Globe & Mail, The Guardian for commentary to analyse) then did regression analysis down to 2,000 comments. Seems most people (we covered gender) don’t think war will be a result.
Actual Outcomes of the Ukraine Crisis?
Our Big Data analysis (social media and news media) would seem to suggest, out of a review of n=50,000 text points that most believe Russia will end up annexing the Crimea and controlling it. Russia will likely also end up controlling parts of the eastern Ukraine but leaving other parts to the new government. Strategically this would also seem highly logical. If, as has been reported, Russia is supplying the Syrian regime through the Sevastopol port with arms (i.e. via the Crimea) and wants to have a naval buffer against the EU and Western interference, the Crimea offers a perfectly accessible point and leaves the majority of the Ukraine as a geographical buffer in case of greater conflict. Of course, Poland becomes another matter, but is currently staying very, very quiet.
So. What do you think? Is this Putin stuck in the miasma of Cold War Soviet-style rhetoric or does he perhaps have a case?