An official who warned that the West was "shooting itself in the foot" by imposing sanctions on Russia has, um, shot himself in the foot. Or maybe not.
An aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin denied an Interfax news agency report on December 29 that his boss had wounded his foot during an outing at a shooting range.
Nikita Asimov said Rogozin had suffered a "sports injury" a few days ago while playing handball.
But for Internet users, the denial came too late -- and sounded dubious. One user said on Twitter that the mocking would not stop "unless Rogozin posts a selfie with legs."
Just over a week ago, Rogozin -- who is in charge of Russia's defense industry -- posted a video of himself at a shooting range. In the 30-second clip, he shows off his skills, even shooting two guns at once.
But if Rogozin has worked hard to build up an image as an anti-Western tough guy, the report of a shooting mishap may be a setback.
"The dude can't even shoot and they entrusted him with the defense complex," wrote Russian lawyer and human rights advocate Pavel Chikov.
Twitter users also expressed doubt about the handball story.
"After the incident with Rogozin, Vladimir Putin signed a decree that prohibits government members playing handball with weapons," one joked.
A nationalist and former Russian ambassador to NATO, Rogozin has been a strident critic of the United States and European Union.
In August 2014, Rogozin wrote on Facebook that the West was "shooting itself in the foot" by imposing sanctions against Russia over its seizure of Crimea and its support for separatists fighting against Kyiv's forces in eastern Ukraine.
And he wasn't the first Russian bureaucrat to use the phrase.
Satirical site Lentach made a collage of 13 headlines containing the same phrase. To name just a few:"The U.S. shot itself in the foot trying to ruin Russia's economy," "Having shot down the Su-24, Turkey shot itself in the foot" and "The alliance shot itself in the foot. Russia threatened NATO with strengthening its military presence in Crimea."
One Twitter user joked that Rogozin should win an award for demonstrating how the Russian sanctions against other countries work -- implying that it is Russia that has shot itself in the foot.
And in the tradition of blaming Russia's problems on outside forces, many in the Twittersphere jokingly looked abroad for the culprit behind Rogozin's injury.
One user wrote that it certainly couldn't be Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "You know me, I would shoot him in the back," Erdogan says in a fictitious quote referring to last month's Turkish downing of a Russian jet, which Putin called "a stab in the back."
Some suspected the Russian president himself.
But another found that, once again, U.S. President Barack Obama is to blame.