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As Putin And Obama Troll Each Other, Twitter Memes It Out

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28.
U.S. President Barack Obama (right) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28.

The U.S. and Russian presidents addressed the United Nations the same day, prompting Internet users to compete in their interpretation and mockery of the two world leaders.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin used their September 28 UN General Assembly speeches to lob thinly veiled attacks at one another.

Obama, though calling Russia a partner of the United States, lambasted its "annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine."

Putin, although only mentioning the United States once and never uttering Obama's name, was clearly accusing Washington of meddling when he said that "no one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the only right one."

Online, supporters and detractors of the two were not so subtle.

The caption to this photo of Putin reads: "Dear Russians, I tasted sanctioned overseas products and let me tell you. So yucky, ugh…"

Anti-Kremlin commentators shared a photo of a group of activists who had unveiled a Ukrainian flag riddled with bullet holes during Putin's speech, allegedly brought from Illovaysk, where one of the bloodiest battles in Donbas took place.

Pro-Russian Twitter users suggested that officials in attendance did not care -- using red arrows to point out audience members who appeared to be more interested in picking their noses or rubbing their eyes.

Awkward photos taken at the official luncheon after both leaders had addressed the United Nations showed a rather grim Obama and Putin clinking glasses. One Twitter user posted stills capturing the moment under the line "Isolation in full swing."

Putin, though, appeared to use a contemporary trick to fight off the awkwardness: "An urgent call from Voronezh," reads this tweet.

Perhaps the scene could have been even more awkward, as suggested by this altered photo adding Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko into the mix.

Russian media reported that most members of the Russian delegation had walked out during Poroshenko's speech the day before; the Ukrainian delegation then followed suit during Putin's speech.

When Obama and Putin finally had their first official meeting in two years, pro-Kremlin Twitter satirist Lev Sharansky pointed out that reality often imitates art.

The less-than-enthusiastic handshake between the two leaders seemed to mimic an episode of the political drama House of Cards in which fictional U.S. President Frank Underwood meets with his Russian counterpart, Viktor Petrov.

But of all the Twitter barbs, none could trump the ultimate slight of the day: a CNN anchor mistakenly referring to Putin as his late predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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