A tweet by the Federal Foreign Office on the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to South Africa has met with massive criticism. The post on the English-language Twitter account of the agency, which is headed by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), read: "Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is in Africa not to see (leopard emoji) but to bluntly claim that Ukraine's partners "want destroy everything Russian". The tweet refers to Lavrov's allegations on Monday in South Africa that the West was at war with Russia in Ukraine.
Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for African Union (AU) leader Moussa Faki, asked the Foreign Office on Twitter if Africa's people and animals were a joke for the German government. Kalondo wrote that Minister Baerbock did not look at any animals during her visit to Ethiopia in mid-January. According to numerous other comments, Africa is more than just a safari continent.
Spreading "appalling clichés" to score geopolitical points will not win Germany any friends, tweeted Zainab Usman, director of the US Africa Carnegie program. Other commentators called the Foreign Office's tweet a diplomatic fiasco.
A post by political blogger John Aravosis suggested that top German diplomats might have been making a covert joke about the Leopard main battle tanks that Germany is now using to support Ukraine in the war against Russia.
The January 24 Baerbock Ministry tweet had been viewed more than two million times, shared more than 2,200 times and commented on more than 600 times as of Friday morning.
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