Russian diplomacy rarely fails to disappoint. Unorthodox individuals can often be witnessed spewing out propaganda via platforms such as Twitter and the United Nations Security Council, resulting in a plethora of material for political observers, journalists and others to read, decipher, and, well, laugh at.
Here is your end-of-the-year countdown of the top five Russian diplomats who stood out most in 2022.
5: First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitriy Polyanskiy
Dmitriy Polyanskiy may not be a household name, nor as well-trained as some of the finest diplomats that Moscow has to offer in terms of what he says and how, but there is something about him – even though he is not Mary (he is Dmitriy).
Seated behind his superior Vasiliy Nebenzya, who systematically delivers hogwash at the UN Security Council before vetoing a yet another decision regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine, Polyanskiy makes for an interesting watch.
Though it can be impossible to tell what exactly goes through his mind – perhaps it is those Ukrainian “combat geese” specially trained in biolabs – his enigmatic facial expressions, coupled with a “when do I get to go home?” feeling – do keep you guessing and entertained.
A well-deserved entry.
4: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Sergey Lavrov is one of those people you simply cannot miss.
The trademark spectacles, deep voice, and labels of others such as “r#tards, bl#ad” make Lavrov recognizable at a glance, regardless of whether you are that keen on looking.
It is impossible to keep track of all the things he has said over the years – after all, he has been in office for almost 20 years now – but then, you always know that his next utterance will be as memorable as the previous one.
This year, except for changing the goals of the “special military operation” several times through his various speeches, he also claimed that Hitler, “if he is not mistaken”, had Jewish roots, which purportedly explains why Ukraine’s Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky is also supposedly a Nazi.
His speedy exit from the UN Security Council during the General Assembly in September is equally a sight to remember. Then again, keep in mind that he had barely received the necessary U.S. visa to attend it so he might have as well opted for a walk around New York before the looming trip to The Hague.
3: Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
Maria Zakharova’s statements surpass even the expectations of those well used to Russia’s standard of diplomacy.
When not threatening countries with Russia’s “military prowess” or calling President Zelensky “the West’s son of a b#tch,” she is complaining about the xenophobic nature of borscht.
Following UNESCO’s decision to designate this style of beetroot soup as part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, she explained that Ukraine is effectively a xenophobic state because qualifying the dish as Ukrainian “shows no respect” to the “housekeepers” in other countries who make their own modifications of the recipe.
Given that Zakharova has taken to zealously defending the culinary world from becoming a hotbed of extremism, you might want to refrain from telling her that the British retailer Marks and Spencer is now selling pre-cooked Chicken Kiev as Chicken Kyiv.
The holidays are just around the corner. Have some mercy, please.
2: Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasiliy Nebenzya
The United Nations has long attracted the crème de la crème of Russian diplomacy, and Vasiliy Nebenzya, who took over the post of the Permanent Representative after the passing of flamboyant liar Vitaly Churkin – to which in 2017 the Guardian wrote an obituary filled with praise for being “tenacious, committed and witty”– is no exception.
Nebenzya is a star – mostly because of his speeches that range from lies ordinarius and failed attempts to prevent Ukraine’s President Zelensky from addressing the Council, to detective novels available at your local grocery store and sci-fi scripts of dubious quality.
It would be unkind to make an easy target out of Nebenzya as no one can really understand how it must feel to tell grown-up, educated people about Ukraine supposedly launching drones packed with virus-spreading combat mosquitoes. And there is his infamous tale about Ukrainian citizen Natalia Vovk who purportedly assassinated Dariya Dugina in Moscow before reportedly fleeing the country with her daughter and cat in a Mini Cooper.
Hopefully, the ‘big four’ – Nicaragua, North Korea, Belarus, and Syria – that voted against the condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory in September are always there for him afterward.
1: Permanent Representative of Russia to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov
Better known as Ambassador Ulyanov, the first place in our list goes to the spiritual leader of the North Atlantic Fellas Organization (NAFO), a movement on Twitter aimed at combatting Russian disinformation and propaganda.
Ulyanov rose to prominence in mid-2022 when he engaged in an internet battle with NAFO accounts featuring the Shiba Inu dog avatar that resulted in his coining the “you pronounced this nonsense, not me” phrase. The statement became one of the biggest memes of 2022 alongside those produced after the unfortunate accident at the Kerch Bridge in October.
But Ulyanov did not stop just there.
A representative of the older generation, Ulyanov often finds it hard to understand what is happening on social media, asking his followers to help him learn how to discern bots from people, including those displaying the Shiba Inu avatars.
He recently engaged with a parody account of the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu – the most accomplished Russian soldier to have never actually served in the army.
In one viral Twitter exchange, “Darth Shoigu” told Ulyanov “But nobody is impressed by you, ever. Why?”, to which Ulyanov replied, “Because my intellectual level is different.”
Keep it that way, Ambassador.
The underdog: Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Konstantin Borodavkin
Our list would be incomplete without the reference to Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Konstantin Borodavkin, who serves as an inspiration to those willing to make enemies fast.
Having claimed in an interview that the largely pro-Russian Kazakhstan is becoming Russophobic and nationalistic, he received a response from Kazakh activist Arman Shuraev who told Borodavkin that he is an “idiot” and that Russia’s “special operation” is questionable results-wise.
Our hunch is that Borodavkin will make a return, so keep a close eye.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter