June 30, 2022

A person in Kyiv holds postage stamps depicting a Ukrainian border guard and the Russian warship Moskva, which was not too long ago sunk, April 14, 2022.VALENTYN OGIRENKO/Reuters

The group of tons of outdoors Kyiv’s Central Publish Workplace was rising stressed. A few of them had been standing in line for greater than eight hours – simply to purchase a stamp.

Not simply any stamp. A stamp depicting a lone Ukrainian soldier flipping the chook at a gray Russian warship, completely capturing this nation’s spirit of defiance by way of one of many iconic moments of this 56-day-old battle.

The picture relies on the response of Roman Hrybov, the commander of a State Border Guard Service unit of 19 who had been stationed on Snake Island, a Ukrainian outpost within the Black Sea, at first of the battle.

On Feb. 25, the second day of the battle, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, approached the island and demanded that the Ukrainian garrison capitulate.

“This can be a Russian warship,” somebody says in an audio recording of the trade between Cdr. Hrybov and the Moskva that shortly went viral in Ukraine and past. “I ask you to put down your arms and give up to keep away from bloodshed and pointless deaths. In any other case, you can be bombed.”

Cdr. Hrybov will be heard playfully asking a member of his unit if he ought to make his place clear.

He then responds with a line that’s now on billboards and bumper stickers throughout this war-ravaged nation: “Russian warship, go fuck your self.”

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Cdr. Hrybov and the opposite guards had been initially believed to have been instantly killed, although it turned out they’d been taken prisoner. All 19 returned to Ukraine in a prisoner swap late final month, and Cdr. Hrybov was awarded a medal.

Individuals line as much as purchase postage stamps on the Ukrposhta, the Central Publish Workplace, in Kyiv, April 20, 2022.Anton Skyba/The Globe and Mail

The episode grew much more well-known after the Moskva, which had fired cruise missiles at Ukrainian cities all through the primary seven weeks of the battle, sank on April 14. Although Russia claims the warship by accident caught fireplace after which sank whereas being towed to dock for repairs, Ukraine says it went down after being struck by two anti-ship missiles.

Among the many tons of in line outdoors Kyiv’s foremost put up workplace had been individuals who noticed shopping for one of many commemorative stamps as half patriotic obligation, half memento accumulating.

One million copies of the flipping-off-the-warship stamp had been printed, and greater than 700,000 have already been bought.

“Possibly it’s our patriotism. We wish to assist. The cash will go to assist the military, so far as we all know,” mentioned Anna Kobushkina, a 25-year-old surgeon who mentioned she had been in line for an hour.

Every stamp prices 24 Ukrainian hryvnya, with 4 going to the nation’s armed forces. “I’ll purchase as many as they offer me,” she mentioned.

With tons of of individuals forward of her, and people on the entrance beginning to shove and jostle, Ms. Kobushkina regarded to have little probability of reaching the put up workplace earlier than the top of the enterprise day.

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She mentioned Cdr. Hrybov’s act was “a lovely second” that captured the nation’s combat for independence, including that she hoped to someday go the stamps on to her grandchildren.

“By their actions they demonstrated that even a small group of Ukrainian individuals are not prepared to give up,” Ihor Krupsky, a 56-year-old pharmacist who had additionally been in line for an hour, mentioned of the troopers who defied the Moskva. “For me personally, which means despite the fact that Ukraine just isn’t a giant nation, we are going to resist the Russian aggressor by any means potential.”

Some imagine the Snake Island guards’ defiance has helped encourage Ukraine’s broader battle effort, which has seen the nation’s smaller navy defy predictions by holding off one of many largest armies on the earth. Earlier this month, Russia was compelled to desert – a minimum of briefly – its try to seize Kyiv with a view to focus its forces on a smaller battleground within the east.

However in a rustic that has taken a catastrophic financial hit for the reason that begin of the battle, many who had been lined as much as purchase stamps Wednesday had been doing so much less out of patriotism than a must make some cash. The Worldwide Financial Fund predicted this week that Ukraine’s gross home product would fall 35 per cent this 12 months, virtually totally on account of the battle.

Individuals line as much as purchase a newly issued stamp commemorating the defiance of the Snake Island border guards, Kyiv, April 20, 2022.Anton Skyba/The Globe and Mail

The stamps price the equal of about $1 every on the put up workplace, however packs of 12 had been promoting for a number of thousand {dollars} on eBay and different web sites Wednesday.

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For essentially the most half, folks wish to purchase them after which simply promote them, mentioned Oleksey Oleksandrovich, a 22-year-old who gave solely his first and patronymic names and mentioned he had been in line since 5 a.m. He deliberate to instantly promote any stamps he was capable of buy to a pal, who supposed to carry on to them a bit of longer to see if costs continued to rise.

Ihor Smilyanskyi, the chief govt officer of the nationwide postal service, Ukrposhta, was mobbed by stamp seekers when he arrived outdoors the primary put up workplace – which is on Kyiv’s central Independence Sq. – Wednesday afternoon. Some demanded that volunteers serving to the nation’s navy be given precedence entry to the stamps.

Mr. Smilyanskyi instructed The Globe and Mail that, even when the general public lined up on the put up workplace had been attempting to make some cash, the costs being paid for the stamp elsewhere spoke for themselves.

“I believe the recognition of the stamp the world over is sending the message to the Russian military the place it must go. And I’m joyful this message can be despatched a couple of million instances.”

He mentioned Ukrposhta was already designing extra limited-edition patriotic stamps. He even hinted that the Moskva would possibly once more function on one, since it’s now a “submarine.”

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