Dmitry Rogozin and the Great Twitter War of 2014

Last Thursday, Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted out a not-so-subtle jab at US President Barack Obama.

It’s just the latest — if most animal-centric — shot fired on Rogozin’s english-language twitter feed, @DRogozin. (Defense News has been unable to determine why there’s a picture of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in the corner there, but rest assured, we have our best men on it.)

The man in charge of Russia’s military-industrial base, Rogozin has been on Twitter for some time, but truly emerged into the spotlight as a vocal voice for Russian President Vladimir Putin following the February invasion of Crimea. He seems to take particular enjoyment in tweaking American-led sanctions against Russian individuals and tweeting out scenic pictures of Crimea, now controlled by Russian forces.

In many ways, Rogozin represents the platonic ideal of an internet troll — only with a large, aggressive military force backing him up. Here are a few of Rogozin’s “greatest hits” to give you a flavor of his work…

1) Rocket Trampoline

This requires a little backstory. Before this tweet, Rogozin had sent out a tweet in Russian sending a not-so-subtle signal that he would consider cutting off access to the International Space Station for US astronauts if sanctions against Russia were not lifted. (Russia provides the launch service to get to the ISS, something the US pays for.) The english language translation came shortly:

Days later, this tweet popped up. Moskal, according to Google, is slang for Russian, although search results differ on whether it is derogatory or not.

2) Sanctions? What sanctions?

(Rogozin is a big fan of the “TwitLonger” service which cuts of tweets. The full commentUS Department of State: “Sanctions had an impact on Russian economy”” The gas contract signed with China is a good example)

On the whole, Rogozin isn’t very impressed with the idea of sanctions against him:

3) Crimea

Rogozin loves to send pictures out from Crimea. They often look like vacation shots you might post to Twitter — wondrous sunsets and old historic buildings.

4) The RD-180

Probably the best known of Rogozin’s tweets are the threats to cut the US off from the RD-180 engine, used by the United Launch Alliance in its Atlas V launch vehicle. The Atlas V is one of only two platforms currently cleared to handle national security launches, so when Rogozin made this threat, it sent shockwaves through the space launch community.

It’s worth noting that Rogozin’s threats to shut down programs have largely been smoke. In particular, Pentagon officials have indicated that there is no movement afoot in Russia to cut off aces to the RD-180 supply. But even the mere threat was enough to set off the search for a new US-developed engine, one which could take five years and over $1 billion to develop.

In other words, Rogozin appears to have started the US down the path to a costly major new development with a Tweet. It only got better when Rogozin’s involvement in Russia’s space programs by a Judge who temporarily suspended procurement of the RD-180 in April.

5) Everything Else



Interestingly, I’ve been told by Russian speakers that Rogozin’s official Russian-language account (@Rogozin) will sometimes tweet out additional messages that aren’t translated into English. That certainly gives credence to the idea that the @DRogozin account is targeted at crafting a message for the US.

So far, Rogozin has ignored repeated twitter requests to talk for stories. We’ll let you know if that changes.

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta