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From this video which appears genuine:

enter image description here enter image description here

I'm miffed at why the Russian soldiers are flying the flag of the USSR. And why would the Russian Ministry of Defense advertise this?


A little more search finds additional images, from other sources

enter image description here

Also, commentary like:

A Soviet flag was even spotted on an armoured vehicle in a video from the Russian Ministry of Defence and broadcast on their television channel Zvezda, identified by the red star logo in the top right of the video.

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3 Answers 3

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I see it as antagonistic by local vehicle crews, particularly those who look up to the myth of the old Soviet Empire.

Bit like you might see in other countries where they might fly the old flags of past era (Confederate flag comes to mind, but only because I can't think of others off the top of my head).

As other might say it is a morale booster.

Nothing more than that and given Russia's official voice (Russian Embassy on Twitter until very recently for example) I would think that they see it as not a negative to promote it.

The red flag on the tank was seen on February 25 in the push towards Kherson, and has been repeated many times.

And the other vehicles (APCs and trucks) flying it are from around 3-4 days ago.

Considering how hard the propaganda machine at home on Russian soil is working, a flying Soviet flag is like flipping the bird at the rest of the (sanction-flinging) world.

Also, ever since the Soviet Union collapse I see the old Soviet flag on a fairly frequent basis, usually with old timers who have good memories (or old Soviet patriots) and with new young Russians too. It reminds me of the campaign to bring back the old Soviet anthem, and the old flag was never far behind...

So, tbh, its nothing new and I was expecting it..

(See other tank formations flying Orthodox flags, and of course the Novorossiya/New Russia confederation battle flags too)

Additional side note, related to the above:

enter image description here

Following Putin's statement in an interview in 2014 that the territories of Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odessa were part of what was called Novorossiya (New Russia), self-proclaimed DPR and LPR proclaimed the confederation of Novorossiya and their desire to enlarge this across southern Ukraine.

The above image appeared in 2015 during DPR and LPR exercises.

Maybe there needs to be more context given to the source of the Russian Defense video. What if they are not Russian troops but rather DPR/LPR troops instead. many would lump them together but I think the differences are important.

Additional:

Given that it seems (without confirming) that much of the footage is of only a few vehicles and seems to be all from the south of Ukraine (for example the tank at Kherson dominates a lot of the reports) it is likely that the footage is of DPR / LPR forces or at least Russian sympathizers / supporters of them (more likely) - the Soviet flag has been seen most often in these parts:

Donbass and Donetsk:

enter image description here enter image description hereenter image description here

Not sure if this is a great source but should show the romanticism for past Soviet days in these southern regions:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/pro-russian-protestors-in-ukraine-dream-of-soviet-glory-days

For many of the people here the Berlin Wall never came down, or at least it shouldn’t have done. .. At pro-Russian demonstrations ... in different cities the modern day Russian flag, while popular, always takes a clear second place to the flags of the USSR and of the Russian Empire before it. The yearning for a vague idea of “glory” that will come with being part of a greater Russian “whole” runs through everything.

https://www.ft.com/content/1425647c-297f-11e6-8ba3-cdd781d02d89

Brandishing a chest pin of Joseph Stalin, Eduard Basurin, deputy defence minister for the local pro-Russian militants, defends the former Soviet leader for raising the “USSR to a level when it was respected in the entire world

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    Yeah, I was thinking of exactly the Confederate flag, at least until the US Army would have the good sense to tell them to take it down. This flag is probably not all that well received by Ukrainians at all. But it's probably good for a certain segment of the Russian population. Mar 11 at 19:19
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    I agree, the US Army would know that it would be seen as insensitive and 'bad taste', by comparison I think the Russians have very little regard for sensitivity, especially at this stage in the invasion and given current politics - and given its probably limited to individual vehicle crew behavior they probably care even less. Mar 11 at 19:42
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    @ZOMVID-21 You may want to read up Holodomor to see why Ukrainians may not view the USSR as much better than the Confederacy. Generally, no one did very well under the USSR, and that includes the Russians themselves. The only "good thing" they got out of it was respect and fear. The gradual rehabilitation of Stalin has been a distressing exercise in political duplicity and manipulation to watch. Remember that no Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact might very well have meant a very different WW2 or its absence. Mar 11 at 20:40
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    Do we have access to the original source along with article, commentary, etc that goes with it? Because without that we're on the backfoot guessing here. As a minor ex press peep, i would have shot it regardless because it stands out. I might've interviewed the crew for their reasons too.. Mar 11 at 20:43
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica completely ahistorical nonsense. There was plenty to be lost from the dissolution of the USSR, as can be seen by the cratering of life expectancy in the post-soviet states. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was only signed after the soviets tried and failed to find western allies against the nazis. War between them was inevitable as even Stalin knew despite all his intelligence failures and self-destructive purges, his goal was delaying it long enough to build up and modernise the red army
    – llama
    Mar 13 at 20:18
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I don't think this is a frequent occurrence, but I've seen it in the footage once or twice.

Psychologically, it should work in the following fashion:

  • People who are loyal to Ukrainian state will likely be enraged by the Soviet flag, since a part of Ukrainian historiography is Soviet-blaming (well-deserved or not, a different question). But they are already enraged by the invasion so no damage here.
  • People who are not loyal to Ukrainian state / Russia sympathizers would likely also view the Soviet flag positively, since in the Soviet time there were no border between them and their Russian sympathy. So their spirits may be uplifted somehow.

So the display of the flag seems to be a small net morale booster.

They could also display the Imperial Standard flag (black/yellow/white) to roughly the same effect, which is paradoxal since its symbolic meaning in Russia is the opposite of that of Soviet flag.

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  • since in the Soviet time there were no border between them Hum, I seem to recall that back then any soviet citizen needed a lot of special authorisations and paperwork to be allowed to travel, even within their own country.
    – Bregalad
    Mar 11 at 22:46
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    @Bregalad you must be confusing it with Albania or North Korea. In the USSR you needed paperwork if you wanted to move somewhere else and have a job there, but domestic travel was not restricted. Just get your hands on a ticket (not always as trivial) and you're good to go.
    – alamar
    Mar 11 at 22:51
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    Possibly I don't know. This probably elvolved between the ~70 years of existance of the USSR, the Stalin years being most probably the most repressive, and the last years of Gorbachev probably the least.
    – Bregalad
    Mar 11 at 22:56
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    Of course I'm talking about the post-1953 Soviet Union.
    – alamar
    Mar 11 at 23:00
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    @alamar pre-1953 it was also not difficult to catch a train to a far-flung corner of the union. At least a one-way ticket to a surprise destination.
    – user42508
    Mar 12 at 18:40
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While in the West this flag is only seen as a flag of USSR, in postsoviet countries, specially Russia this flag is more often called the flag of victory or Victory Banner.

Some opinion from Russia about fliing Victory Banner. Also an other article from Russia is tallking about Victory Banner.

And an other russian source tallking about the flag as Victory Banner. Here the translation of the article as it is:

The Banner of Victory was raised over the liberated Kherson

Residents of Kherson and the Kherson region of Ukraine waited for a peaceful life. Now this area is under the complete control of the Russian military, who are helping citizens return to their normal lives.

Head of News Front Konstantin Knyrik and a representative of Kherson raised the Banner of Victory over the liberated city.

“I am very proud that we managed to install the Banner of Victory today. Especially at a time when nationalists, fascist scum today in Kharkov demolished the monument to Marshal Georgy Zhukov, it is especially pleasant for me that we managed to do this on the banks of the Dnieper. My grandfather is a front-line soldier, and was buried in the Dnepropetrovsk region, and I really want to go to his grave, and I am sure that I will get there. It is especially symbolic, as for a Crimean, that this was done with a resident of Kherson,” Konstantin Knyrik said.

According to a resident of Kherson and the head of News Front, the Kherson region and Crimea remain one, and on May 9 there will be a Victory parade under the Banner of Victory with St. George ribbons.

From this article you can see how people from Russia or suporting Russia see this flag. Also it shows that Russian troops belive, they are liberating Ukraine from nazies the same way they were doing in Germany 1945.

And there is an official statement by Kremlin:

The Kremlin called the Victory Banner a sacred shrine for Russians

The Banner of Victory is a shrine for all generations of Russians, which has a sacred meaning. This was stated in an interview with reporters by the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the use of the red flag by Russian military personnel during a special operation in Ukraine.

“In our country, for all generations without exception, the Banner of Victory is a sacred thing. For many generations in many countries, especially the former Soviet Union, it is also a sacred thing that has a special meaning and literally sacred meaning,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

At the same time, Peskov noted that he had no information about the use of the imperial flag by the Russian military in Ukraine.

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    The victory banner has some extra inscriptions. I don't exclude the plain USSR flag may have been used as a substitute though.
    – Fizz
    Apr 8 at 18:07
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    @Fizz There are more then 1 such banner: rbth.com/history/330867-soviet-victory-banner-reichstag-photo
    – convert
    Apr 8 at 18:12
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    Not officially. Although the Victory Banner (the one with inscriptions) has been adopted as quasi-official by some Moscow-backed self-declared republics en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Fizz
    Apr 8 at 18:16
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    For the one downvoting, I just quoted an article, it is not my opinion. The question is Why would Russian troops in Ukraine fly the flag of the USSR? And why would the Russian MoD advertise this? This article explain the motivation of that Russian troops, shure the majority here, specially the downvoter, disagre with that motivation, but that don´t change the answer.
    – convert
    Apr 18 at 11:08

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