Narendra Modi/Facebook

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Putin Plays Footsie with Modi

Russian President Vladimir Putin is no longer among the rarefied club of twitteratis who are disinterested in their Twitter followers. On a rare occasion, Putin’s official personal Twitter channel has started to hit the retweet button. And the person who receives that honor is none other than the host of his latest trip to New Delhi: Narendra Modi.

However, it may not be a big deal for Modi as the newly-elected Indian prime minister is enjoying a global reception. Many analysts see Putin’s state visit to India as his attempt to rekindle a friendship at a time when the sanction-hit Moscow is facing increasing isolation.

This may provide a plausible explanation as to what motivates Putin to lean on Twitter to woo the leader of India who has more options where to purchase military hardware. India, the world’s largest arms importer, still acquires its lion’s share of imports from Russia, but is increasingly looking into other markets for advanced weaponry.

A quick perusal of Vladimir Putin’s twitter profile reveals that as many as nine tweets appear to be from either the official account of India’s PM office or Narenda Modi’s personal channel. This happens to be the first instance when Putin’s Twitter profile retweets tweets:

Much to Putin’s pleasure, Narendra Modi also posted three tweets in Russian:

According to Paul Saunders, Director of the Center for National Interest: “Russia is definitely interested in a closer relationship with India and has been for some time. This has been one of Moscow’s goals in the BRICS group and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, among other places. Putin’s Twitter feed appears to reflect this. That said, Putin’s ‘personal’ Twitter feed is probably not too personal and may be a way to send signals but is not really a way to build a relationship. That requires old-fashioned personal diplomacy.”

In addition, seven of these nine retweeted tweets have been made favorited. The previously favorited tweets are all from Putin’s very personal account. According to the Twitter handle, tweets from Putin himself will have his initials. So far, there appears no such instance that boasts his name. This in turn demonstrates Putin’s apathy to engage in social media. Nevertheless, “Modi mania” has affected Putin’s PR team conspicuously. Modi’s predecessor did not receive such attention from the Kremlin although the bilateral relationship was good. Putin joins Modi to celebrate their friendship as the tweet reads:

Putin’s social media team also runs another twitter channel in Russian which enjoys a greater number of followers than the English one. In reciprocity, it follows only one account.

Can you guess which one?

It’s Putin’s own profile in English. Sounds very much like Putin, doesn’t it?