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Florida congressman congratulates US Navy using picture of Russian battleship 'Pyotr Velikiy'

Florida congressman congratulates US Navy using picture of Russian battleship 'Pyotr Velikiy'
Using a stock photo has backfired on Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fl),  who wished the US Navy happy birthday in a tweet using a picture of the Russian battleship 'Pyotr Velikiy.'

The tweet appeared on the morning of October 13 when the US Navy was celebrating its 244th birthday. It was soon deleted, but not before Politico’s deputy defense editor Dave Brown called it out, noting: “That's the Russian battlecruiser 'Pyotr Velikiy.'”

Mast, a US Army veteran who lost both legs and a finger in Afghanistan, made another congratulatory tweet using an official video from the US Navy. But it was too late.

Commenters on social media slammed the Purple Heart recipient for his blunder, especially since he already had ‘a Russian connection.’ Mast received a $2,173 donation in 2018 from an “Igor Furman.” Prosecutors have insisted that this is the Furman, a Ukrainian businessman and associate of Rudi Giuliani, who was arrested on Wednesday along with several associates. They were charged with funneling illegal foreign contributions to Republican PACs in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Mast’s spokesperson said the congressman would return the donation that he had received through the “Protect the House” fundraising committee.

While commenters were engaging in sinister speculation, other internet sleuths suggested that Mast's use of the Russian battleship image may have resulted from a careless choice of stock photos. The picture was apparently taken near Kronstadt naval base in St. Petersburg a few years ago and then ended up on the Shutterstock website with the ship's number and other markings removed.

‘Pyotr Velikiy’ is a heavy nuclear-propelled missile cruiser, and the only member of the Kirov class currently in service. The 28,000-ton, two-reactor vessel carries 20 P-700 Granit cruise missiles as her primary anti-ship weapon, as well as an array of anti-aircraft missiles to protect herself and her convoy. She is currently deployed in the Barents Sea with 15 other ships and submarines in her role as the flagship of Russia’s Northern Fleet.

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