The official confirmed he wore the socks, which were inscribed with an expression insulting to Russians
Janis Sarts, director of NATO’s Strategic Communications Center in Riga, was spotted wearing socks inscribed “Топчу русню” – “I trample on Rusnya,” a derogatory term for Russians – at a conference in Warsaw on Friday. Sarts has confirmed he indeed wore the socks to the conference.
The ankle-level message was first seen on the Twitter account of the Minister of National Defense of Poland, Mariusz Blaszczak, who took photos with Sarts at the conference, before it was picked up by Ukrainian social media accounts. It’s not clear if Blaszczak knew he was being photobombed by the offensive footwear.
The gesture “speaks to the intensity of the information and propaganda war that is now taking place between Russia and the West,” Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian Council for International Affairs, told Lenta.ru on Saturday, explaining that “it is clear that some more restrained line of conduct could be expected, since we are talking about an official, and not a journalist or blogger.”
But while he believes “such an action can only cause regret,” Kortunov said he would be surprised if there was any response in kind from Russian leadership. “I think this is not the level of our top politicians,” he opined.
The socks, which are also embroidered with bullets, were designed by television personality Michael Schchur in collaboration with Dodo Socks, and 50% of the profit from each pair’s sale is supposed to support Ukraine’s 112 Troop Brigade.