Ukraine: Russian forces raise the Soviet flag, a symbol of the “re-establishment of Russian hegemony”

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, thousands of photos have appeared on the Internet showing Russian soldiers and vehicles. Some of these photos shocked viewers when they saw the flag of the Soviet Union waving some Russian military equipment. For residents of Ukraine, formerly part of the Soviet Union, the flag may represent “an expression of a desire to oppress them,” according to a post-Soviet policy specialist who spoke to France 24 observers.

Red flag decorated with golden hammer and sickle at top left – symbol of the Communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during its existence from 1922 to 1991. The Soviet Union extended into Eurasia, made up of republics including present day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus as well as the countries of Europe Eastern and other Central Asia.

Today, the flag is still used to represent communism and socialism. Recently, it appeared on at least four separate Russian military vehicles in videos taken in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24.

T-72B3 tank with roof screen, “Z” sign and Soviet flag driving along the Dnieper.

– Rob Lee (@RAlee85) February 25, 2022 A video posted to Twitter on February 25, 2022 shows a group of Russian military vehicles in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, identified by a Z in white and painted on the Russian vehicles to distinguish them from Ukrainian equipment. Someone raises the Soviet flag. Soviet flags on vehicles should not be taken as an expression of a Russian policy to re-establish Soviet power, but to re-establish Russian hegemony over Ukraine. Soviet studies. The France 24 team of observers told why these flags appeared alongside Russian forces.

These scattered examples of Soviet flags on chariots should not be taken as an expression of Russia’s policy of re-establishing Soviet power, but rather as an expression of Russian domination of Ukraine.

these [videos] They look like examples of Russian soldiers hanging these flags on their tanks and vehicles. There may even be some communists in the army (the Russian Communist Party won 19% of the vote in the last elections). There were certainly communists among the rebels in eastern Ukraine […] After all, the Donbass republics are called “people’s republics” – the same terms the Soviets used to control foreign countries within their empire.

Russian perspective shots of a BTR-80 APC Rosjavardia missile targeting Ukrainian positions with 14.5mm and 7.62mm PKT KPVT machine guns. It is said near Kharkiv.

– Status-6 (@Archer83Able) March 7, 2022 A video posted to Twitter on March 7, 2022 shows a Soviet flag (visible from 0:30) on a Russian troop carrier, reportedly in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine. However, these republics [of Donbas] Closely controlled by Moscow, Putin has constantly tried to distance himself from the Soviet past, other than regretting the collapse of the empire and the loss of Russian control over it. [Editor’s note: Putin, in 2005, called the breakup of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century”.]

In a speech on February 21, when Putin recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donbass in southeastern Ukraine, the Russian president described Ukraine as an integral part of his country’s history.

[Putin] He is highly critical of the Soviet Union for creating a separate Ukrainian federation in the first place. Instead, he advocated a return to the pre-Soviet Russian imperial past in which Ukraine was just part of Russia.

“Modern Ukraine is entirely made by Russia, namely Bolshevik and communist Russia,” Putin said in his February 21 speech.

The Kremlin described its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation”, and denied the invasion was an attempt to occupy former Soviet territory.

The Soviet flag was even spotted on an armored vehicle in a video clip from the Russian Ministry of Defense broadcast on their Zvezda TV channel, which is identified by the red star emblem at the top right of the video.

Video from Zvezda of the Russian Defense Ministry purporting to show Russian forces in Ukraine. Note the prominent Soviet flag on the BMP-2.

– Rob Lee (@RALEe85) March 9, 2022 A video posted by the TV channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense on March 9, 2022, shows the Soviet flag on a Russian tank. Baisinger explained how some people living in post-Soviet countries might interpret this flag, “for older Ukrainians in particular, Soviet symbols remind them of the violence and famine of the 1930s, when millions of Ukrainians died.”

With the exception of Belarus (where Soviet symbols were incorporated by Lukashenkoregime), the reception of the Soviet flag and Soviet symbols in most post-Soviet countries would be viewed as intensely provocative—in some ways, a denial of the post-Soviet state system in its current form. For older Ukrainians in particular, Soviet symbols remind them of the violence and famine of the 1930s, when millions of Ukrainians died, the guerrilla war against Soviet rule in western Ukraine after World War II, and the massive attempts by the Soviet regime to assimilate Ukrainians. to prevent them from enrolling in the teaching of the Ukrainian language.

Most Ukrainians today did not experience Soviet power. But they certainly know it well from the school, the media, their parents and relatives. For most of them, what they know about that history will make them view Soviet symbols as an expression of the desire to suppress them.

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