11:21 Nov. 23, 2016
Russia hasn't supplied Ukraine with gas for almost a year
Ukraine's state gas company has battled with Russia's Gazprom PJSC over natural gas supplies in the real world for years. Now it's taken the fight to Twitter.
An account run by NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy frequently tweets directly to the world's biggest exporter about contract disputes, posting articles decrying new pipeline projects that would send more Russian gas into Europe and re-tweets compliments on its efforts to wean itself off imports from its once dominant supplier. In September, the account directed its 1,350 followers to a clock that counts the days since Naftogaz last bought fuel from Russia via a web link called "still alive."
It's been 362 days since the last imports.
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"It's a way for them to get ahead of the story," said Philip Howard, a professor of sociology, information and international affairs at University of Oxford. "This may be a case where they've decided that there's enough Russian counter-propaganda or Russian messaging that they want to respond and brawl this way."
Gazprom declined to comment. The company, which has more than 70,000 followers of its English and Russian accounts, hasn't responded to any of the tweets sent by Naftogaz.
"An active and engaging position in social media gives you a chance to explain," Aliona Osmolovska, a spokeswoman at Naftogaz, said by e-mail. She said even if Gazprom doesn't respond, it's a medium the company can't afford to avoid because it's so popular. The Naftogaz account is followed by energy journalists, analysts and traders.