The Ukrainian army remains silent about the attack. At the same time, Ukraine’s state postal service issued a wildly popular war stamp on Friday, commemorating the explosion on the Crimean Bridge.
In several Ukrainian cities, residents are queuing for the new seal. So there are emotions attached to it. The blow on the ‘Putin’ bridge’ – which connects the peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014 to the Russian mainland – sparked national pride in the besieged country at the beginning of last month – although it was immediately followed by grief for the victims of Russian retaliatory bombing.
The new war stamp was designed by artist Yuri Sjopoval and combines an image of the twisted bridge with a famous scene from the film Titanic, in which Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet are on the bow. For Ukrainians, a teasing reference to Russia’s claims that the bridge was “unsinkable.” According to the chief of the state postal service, the stamp also “shows the titanic efforts of our people and the armed forces.”
Ukrainians have traditionally been stamp collectors, just like Russians. Despite everything, special stamps have been issued since the beginning of the war, especially for important feats of arms. The first in that series was released in a limited edition and showed a Ukrainian soldier raising his middle finger at the Russian flagship Moskva. That sank in the Black Sea – according to Russia as a result of an accident on board.
According to military specialists, the Moskwa was indeed hit by a Ukrainian missile. The Russian loss provided a huge boost to the Ukrainian troops, at a time when they could use some positive news. The stamp became extremely popular throughout the country. Also through the imprint of the slogan ‘Russian warship, go fuck yourself!’. Those words were first uttered by Roman Hrybov when a Russian warship ordered him and his men to surrender on the now world-famous Snake Island hours after Putin ordered the invasion. Hrybov’s words went viral and then became a kind of rallying cry for the Ukrainians. The first edition of the Moskva stamp is already being traded on the internet for hundreds of dollars.
Another popular war stamp shows a watercolor of a Ukrainian tractor towing a Russian tank. A reference to the many abandoned Russian tanks, shot or not, that were ‘expropriated’ by enterprising Ukrainian peasants during the reconquest of areas around Kharkov and dragged from the battlefield. “This tractor, carrying broken enemy equipment to be repaired and put into service by our military, is an allegory of how every Ukrainian is doing everything in their power, to the best of their ability, to bring our victory closer.” ‘ said Anastasia Bondarets, the stamp’s designer.
The demand for the stamps is high, also internationally. The Russian American writer Vladislav Davidzon wrote about it in The Washington Examiner. “By getting there early and standing in line long enough, one can purchase a first edition marked as posted on the first day of issue. This gave me a memory of a hellish and heroic moment in Ukrainian national history.”
Ukraine has printed no fewer than seven million Crimean Bridge stamps this week, which are available at all Ukrposhta post offices. The perforated edge of the stamp depicts a blue road sign with the Crimean Bridge in Russian, and the Ukrainian word for ‘encore’ highlighted in red. Incidentally, the sale of the special and much sought-after stamps would have been marked by corruption from day one. Employees of ‘Ukrposhta’ have been accused of deliberately withholding stamps in order to be able to sell them for much more.
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