By: V 4 Agency
The Russians already know Joe Biden’s new press secretary, Jen Psaki, from the Obama era all too well. In and around 2014, several of her utterances in foreign affairs initially caused Russians bewilderment which eventually turned to amusement. One such example, when the former State Department spokesperson talked about natural gas provided to Russia via Ukraine from Western Europe.
Not long after likely president elect Biden announced the members of his communications team, including Jennifer Psaki, a senior communications executive in the Obama administration, a near-forgotten photo soon appeared on social media.
The image showing Psaki in the company of her then boss US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov caused quite a stir in 2014.
On the photo Jennifer Psaki, the soon to be White House press secretary, is all smiles donning a “girlish” pink ushanka [traditional Russian fur hat with ear flaps], boasting the Soviet red star, hammer and sickle. Although the communist emblem seemingly did not bother the once State Department spokesperson and later Obama communications director, it certainly caused upset for those for whom the emblem evoked memories of family tragedies under the tyranny.
The ushanka is considered a token of Russian congeniality and was gifted to Ms Psaki.
At the time, Psaki was accused of repeated blatant uninformed ignorance of Central and Eastern European history in her statements and remarks. Even those Russians more acquiescent to communist symbols were taken aback when the US president’s communications director was oblivious to the relations between Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, and in a live press conference spoke of how natural gas is piped from Western Europe via the Ukraine into Russia. “As we all know,” she underlined with confidence.
The Russians apparently with some gleeful nostalgia can’t wait for Jennifer Psaki to resume her post in the potential Biden administration. They are digging out her old Obama-era gaffes regarding Russia and spinning memes and jokes on social media. Her “novel” and history- and fact-defying utterances have generated new expressions in the Russian language, for example, her name has given rise the term “Psaking”, which basically means: stupidity, confusion, the act of confusing facts.
The Moscow Times writes that Russian state television is specifically preparing for Psaki’s return. Russian television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov, supportive of the Kremlin, recently reminded viewers of Psaki’s embarrassing utterance about the flow of natural gas quoted above, adding that “she was also the one who sent a fleet to the coast of Belarus,” quite a feat considering the country is landlocked.
Elena Panina, a member of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, told RIA Novosti state news agency that Psaki’s reappointment was downright alarming.
The “attacks” on Jennifer Psaki came not only from Russian trolls and journalists, but also from political opponents. For example, Matt Wolking, a spokesperson for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, took to tweeting the iconic pink ushanka photo, commenting, “Here’s Jen Psaki embracing Russia’s foreign minister and Russia’s chief foreign affairs propagandist while wearing a pink hammer and sickle hat.”
Ms Psaki is less than happy about the fresh reactions. In a 2 December tweet, she wrote that whoever is involved in spreading the misinformation and attacks on her are unwittingly or not, puppets of the propaganda machine.