On 21 December, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed a joint session of U.S. Congress. After that speech, he gifted a Ukrainian flag with signatures of the defenders of Bakhmut to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was this object, subjected to graphic editing, that became a tool of pro-Kremlin propaganda, according to which the flag contains Nazi symbols of the SS. In reality, the image has been edited.
SS symbols on the flag from Zelenskyy
A graphically edited photo of the Ukrainian flag gifted by Volodymyr Zelenskyy was shared in a blog post by the disinformation portal Lega Artis. The poor-quality picture includes shapes resembling SS runes. The manipulated image also appeared on Telegram and Twitter.
The fake photo is a mirror image of a video frame of the flag being gifted by Zelenskyy. In the comparison below, one can clearly see that the original symbol four was duplicated in the manipulated image using an editing software.
In fact, the flag contains the number 46 referring to the 46th Separate Airmobile Brigade fighting in Bakhmut. The letters “ДШВ” stand for “десантно-штурмова бригада,” or the 46th Separate Airmobile Brigade.
What are SS runes?
As we can read on the portal Historia.org.pl:
The symbol resembling a double four or lightning is actually derived from Armaren runes and means “Sig”, i.e. victory. SS troops wore this sign on their helmets, signet rings and collar flaps.
The SS, or Protection Squadron (Schutzstaffel), was founded in November 1925. The founder of this organisation separated from the SA (NSDAP Storm Detachment) was Adolf Hitler.
Russian propaganda is trying hard to attribute Nazi symbolism to the Ukrainian army. The alleged SS symbols on Zelenskyy’s flag are a primitive graphic edit of the signature of the 46th Separate Airmobile Brigade.