Friday, March 28, 2014

Word clouds of Putin Address

Yet another turn of events took place today with Putin phoning Obama to seek diplomatic solution to the international standoff over Ukraine. Neither side expressed much excitement so far, but dialogue during crisis is better than couple of monologues.

Meanwhile what drove Putin to reach out to Obama? Maybe he feels it's the time he holds all the cards? While easily guessing his cards are Crimea, military buildup on the border, and continuing instability in Ukraine, what would be the bargaining about?

I will try using simple text analysis give another perspective on Putin's campaign in Crimea. Russian president doesn't give speeches or  press-conferences often but always exceptionally prepared. There were 3 relevant appearances by Putin in last couple of months before and during Ukrainian crisis (all are official translations from his site):

  1. News conference following EU Summit on January 24th.
  2. Press-conference with media representatives to answer questions with regard to the situation in Ukraine on March 4th. 
  3. Address by President to State Duma on Crimea on March 18th.
So what is the Address on Crimea about:
Not surprisingly it refers to Ukraine, Crimea and Russia the most. These words could be excluded without loosing any insight: 
Now, cloud becomes all about will and people (supposedly applied to RussianUkrainianCrimean). Has anything changed since EU Summit when Putin made his address? One way to answer this is to place both transcripts into the text corpus and run TF-IDF statistic on the terms. This time our cloud is based on the TF-IDF scores (minimal frequency of term per document is 3) for the address and will reflect both frequency in the Address and importance compared to EU Summit (that is all other documents in the corpus):
The words above stand out when compared to EU Summit text. It's no surprise that Sevastopol didn't sound in January, but nor were Kosovo, residents, and law. To make it more convincing let's throw into the mix Putin's press conference on March 4th when he broke silence on Crimea. Now the text corpus includes 3 documents and this is the cloud of the highest TF-IDF scores for the Address document:

Again there are Sevastopol and city, but also importantly Russians, NATO, millions, ethnic, reality, Tatars, borders, and USSR are the words that stand out compared to what Putin said before. It is a clearly a mix of his concerns, goals, and, well, realities, but, it could be also about symbol of Russian glory - Sevastopol - at least to some degree? After checking his speech it is clear that he referred to Sevastopol each time Crimea, but there was one place where this city mentioned alone: 
"I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors."
Would Putin roll back and yield to international condemnation? Very unlikely, but I cannot imagine at all he will give Sevastopol back.

Since Sevastopol was used along with Crimea which was removed from analysis the cloud below is version of last with Sevastopol excluded. Word clouds are always open to interpretation so I leave it here for the reader to make their own conclusions: