‘Happy birthday, Mr. President’: Ukrainians celebrate the bridge blast with memes | The New York Times

by UKCHP_Admin

KYIV — Nearly every significant military gain for Ukrainian interests in the war with Russia has been met with jubilation from Ukrainians and their supporters, who flood social media with celebratory memes.

The blast on Saturday morning that damaged the vital Kerch Strait Bridge that links the Crimean Peninsula to Russia was no exception.

The bridge has both practical and symbolic resonance as it is not only a critical supply line for Russian forces in the country’s south but also a personal passion project for President Vladimir V. Putin.

Within hours of the explosion, several government agencies in Ukraine had posted some sort of meme or joke on social media to celebrate it, to poke fun at Mr. Putin or to hint at who might have been behind it.

Among them was Ukraine’s national rail service, which posted a photo on Twitter of the Kerch Strait Bridge’s rail line engulfed in flames. “No smoking onboard the trains!” the service tweeted, accompanying the message with a winking emoji.

Dozens of photoshopped images depicted President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine grilling kebabs over the flames shooting from the bridge. Others reveled in the moment by positioning “Game of Thrones” characters alongside pictures of the damage or by suggesting that traditional Russian birch bark sandals could be used as flippers for swimming across the Kerch Strait.

Ukraine’s postal service quickly came up with a mock stamp depicting the bridge in a scene from the movie “Titanic.” One Ukrainian bank — Monobank — offered a new image for their virtual mobile bank cards that showed the destroyed surface of the Crimean bridge and the burning train. By midday, it had been downloaded more than 300,000 times.

Oleksiy Danilov, head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, posted footage of the destruction alongside a video of Marilyn Monroe singing, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” alluding to Mr. Putin’s birthday a day earlier.

The post was liked and shared tens of thousands of times.

The social media glee harked back to other pivotal moments since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February — including when the Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was destroyed.

That ship had been a major target of Ukrainian ire after it bombarded Snake Island, a Ukrainian territory in the Black Sea, at the start of the war. When the Moskva was sunk, a popular joke among foes of the Kremlin was that the vessel had been turned into a submarine.

Messages on social media have often provided a rallying point for Ukrainians since the Russian invasion, with tens of thousands of images pouring out on Telegram channels and in other forums.

Memes have also been part of a major fund-raising effort for the Ukrainian side, reinforcing and commodifying the public image of a plucky nation that has managed to counter an invasion by a superpower.

[Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/08/world/europe/ukrainians-crimea-bridge-memes.html]


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