If you’re part of a Russian military unit currently engaged in a covert mission to destabilize a neighboring country’s government you probably shouldn’t be spending most of your time taking selfies to upload to Instagram, but if you must take the selfies, you definitely shouldn’t leave the feature which tags your location on.
That is the obvious lesson one Russian soldier learned this week after his unending stream of self-portraits uploaded to social media may have caused an international crisis by confirming what his country has so far denied: Russia has soldiers in Ukraine.
The soldier in question is Sanya Sorkin, a 24-year-old Russian communications expert stationed along the border of Ukraine, but as The Drum discovered, the geo-tags in some of his over 500 pictures uploaded to his Instagram account reveal that they were taken near the Ukrainian towns of Kranaya Talovka and Krasnyi Derkul.
Many of the photos have been posted as recently as early July. In one of his posts (dated July 7, 2014) he complains about his current situation and seemingly suggests he is already inside the Ukrainian border:
“I still don’t understand what we’re doing here, so we’re continuing to go slightly crazy, listen to #swedishhousemafia and wait for new news from Ukraine!”
The photos cannot be confirmed, but it should be noted that Sorkin has not posted recently suggesting his carelessness may have been discovered by his superior officers. A statement from the Russian Embassy apparently confirms that they are aware of the pictures but goes on to deny that they were real.
At this time, his account still remains active and the pictures in question are still there.
The fact that Sorkin and his unit are engaged in operations inside Ukraine won’t come as a big surprise to many people. Despite Russia’s insistence that they aren’t lending direct support to pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists, the evidence against them is pretty damning.
It does, however, make it that much harder for Russian president Vladimir Putin to tell the world that Russia is being completely honest about its involvement. Lies are so much easier to say when there aren’t pictures directly contradicting them.