The hashtag “#IStandWithPutin,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was among the trending topics on Twitter in India on Thursday, China’s state-run Global Times reported on Friday. “As of Thursday [March 3], #IStandWithPutin had become a trending topic on Twitter in 12 countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, the US, Australia, Pakistan, Canada, the UK and India, and ranked 25th in global trends,” the propaganda newspaper reported on March 4. The Chinese news site guancha.cn revealed “#IStandWithPutin” was the top trending Twitter topic in India, Kenya, and Nigeria on March 3. A report by the Hindi news channel India TV on March 2 supported those published by Chinese state media on March 4. “Twitter India saw hashtags ‘I stand with Putin’ and ‘I stand with Russia’ trending,” India TV’s English news website wrote on Wednesday. India TV republished several posts on Twitter appearing to have been posted in recent days by people across India and Africa along with pro-Russia and pro-Putin hashtags. One such statement by a Twitter user named Vian on March 1 read:
#IStandWithPutin because he is only trying to save his country from the West!! Which you would know if you have been paying attention. Ukraine has got a clown for a PM who is dancing on the gestures of the west. W A K E U P ! !
This week’s Twitter trends in favor of Russia and Putin came in response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The Kremlin declared its intention to formally recognize the independence of two Russian-backed breakaway states in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region on February 21 and sent additional Russian troops into those territories 72 hours later. Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine soon expanded beyond Donbas and remained ongoing at press time. New Delhi and Beijing, two of Moscow’s biggest political allies, have so far chosen not to publicly condemn the Kremlin’s recent military action in Ukraine. This was evidenced on February 26 when India and China, along with the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), abstained from a vote by the U.N. Security Council toward a resolution that would have demanded Russia immediately withdraw all of its armed forces from Ukraine. The resolution ultimately failed to pass because Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, vetoed the draft measure.