We’ve all heard of sealing letters with a kiss, but what if the message you want to send is, “Stop fucking invading my country”? Ukraine has got you covered, with a new stamp that commemorates Ukrainian soldier Roman Gribov’s reply to a Russian warship that asked his force on Snake Island to surrender: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself!”
Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister, Emine Dzheppar, announced the stamp in a tweet earlier this week. The stamp’s design, featuring a panoramic view of a Ukrainian soldier giving an approaching Russian warship the middle finger, was created by Ukrainian artist Boris Groh and submitted to a public contest by the Ukrainian Postal Service (Ukrposhta).
Groh’s entry was the winner through social media upvotes, beating out a field of four finalists that included a graphic sinking Russian warship with the included text dripping blood; a subtle Snake Island carved out against a Ukrainian yellow ocean and blue sky telling a huge Russian warship to fuck itself; and one that rendered the small troop of soldiers stationed on the island on a little bit of land, buoyed by their iconic battle cry. Groh proved that a picture is worth a thousand words, as the only entry to elide the phrase entirely, replacing it with a single, eloquent gesture.
The stamp is only the latest in what is being considered a masterful public image campaign on the part of Ukraine, encouraging national fortitude and international aid through a heady combination of stalwart determination to hold their ground, and wacky memes. Just as their Russian foes were early adopters of social media as a tool for disinformation and passive disruption of international politics, Ukraine seems to well understand the power of propaganda as a rallying call. And while it is somewhat unorthodox to put literal profanities on postage stamps, and canonize those who utter them as national heroes, it feels extremely fitting given the circumstances.
Not only does it offer Ukranians something to hold onto as they continue their struggle, the new stamp also prvides a future opportunity to mail in Ukrainian parking tickets, tax filings, and other hate mail with a little something extra spicy on the envelope.