Pro-Russian Separatists Are Flying the Confederate Flag. Why?


Youtube screencap, Moscow Times

The self-proclaimed leaders of the so-called people's republic of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine are taking some tips from the U.S., but in a way that most people will not find palatable: They adopted a modified version of the Confederate Flag. It holds no meaning in Eastern Europe, so to whom are these Russian-backed fighters trying to appeal? 

The Moscow Times reports:

The flag of the unrecognized Novorossia ["New Russia"] confederation is not entirely identical to the banner of the Army of Northern Virginia, as it lacks stars. …

But otherwise, it is the same as the Confederate flag, a blue diagonal cross bordered with white on a red background. General Lee would have been proud.

The pro-Russian rebels, known for their dislike of all things American, do not take direct inspiration from the U.S. secession movement or fear the implications of separatist bad luck that their flag entails. …

The official news website of the separatist People's Republic of Donetsk, part of Novorossia, on May 31 credited Ukrainian political analyst Mikhail Pavliv with creating the "official banner" of the self-proclaimed territory.

Yet, Pavliv, a support of the insurgency, told The Moscow Times he had simply stumbled upon the flag online somewhere.


It doesn't make much sense that anti-Americans, who already have their own Russo-centric images, would start waving this loaded American artifact. For comparison, wouldn't it be weird if instead of calling themselves "the State of Jefferson," the breakaway group in California picked up a name from 1860s Russia opposition politics and called themselves "the State of Mikhail Bakunin"? Transplanted foreign symbols just wouldn't resonate with locals, and Russia has long seen itself as above the racial tensions of America embodied in the Southern banner.

Now, there have been a few incidents of Europeans waving the rebel flag as a banner of anti-tyranny, such as at the fall of the Berlin Wall and, in fact, when pro-Western Ukrainians deposed their corrupt, pro-Russian president earlier this year. But, again, this separatist movement is anti-Western.

The insurgents, by their own admission, don't know jack about Dixie and certainly aren't defending its heritage. A lot of them are just Chechen mercenaries, not history buffs. On the other hand, Moscow has a surprisingly effective propaganda machine that does know history and does direct itself at the U.S.

Americans, for many reasons, are divided about the conflict in Ukraine. There are some who are wary of stopping the spread of Russian oppression because they're more afraid of the U.S.'s imperialist tendencies. Some of those Americans are sympathetic to Vladimir Putin and praise his conservative manliness. Some of those Americans identify positively with the Confederate Flag and see Russia as a cultural ally. Does anyone hear a dog whistle?

Here's a video of the bizarre matchup

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  1. Just’a good ol’ boys
    Never meanin’ no harm.
    Beats all you never saw
    Been in trouble with the law
    Since the day they was born

    1. Does this make Putin Boss Hog?

      1. Every T-90 gets a white paint job and a set of steer horns on the glacis plate.

        1. Freeze frame and cut to commercial as T-90 jumps over a MAZ-7917 mobile ICBM launcher.

          1. Latter in that episode inept American tankers ram their M1 into same MAZ-7917 and flip over. They crawl out and shake their fists as the Russkies laugh.

    2. I like Russia if only because of those “meanwhile in russia” videos.

      I said this awhile ago.

      Russia is like America:

      Just take middle america put in a large scoop of Florida, a pinch of dash cams add chickens and vodka mix and you get Russia.

  2. I believe it’s because they stumbled onto a Hit ‘n Run comment thread.

  3. I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.

    -Letter from Lord Acton to Robert E Lee

    1. Of course I didn’t really read your new constitution or any of the Ordinances of Secession so I’m really just talking out my ass here. And further more when I said… “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”..I of course only meant that about the darkies. Also, I am totally buzzed right now.

      – further along in the above mentioned letter.

      1. Nothing funnier than watching three quarters of a million people dying. Tell us another one, comedian.

  4. This is pathetic. Americans, it’s not all about you. That includes (likely) American expats working for the Moscow Times. The flag closely resembles the naval flag of Russia.

    What is more relevant in eastern Ukraine: the Russian Navy in the Black Sea or the Confederacy?

    1. So like the funny episode in 1936, when Haiti and Lichtenstein were discovered to have the same flag?

      1. Which of course begs the question as to why the Confederacy chose a slightly modified Russian Naval Ensign as their battle flag.

        1. It’s called a saltire, and it’s pretty common in flags, especially the scottish one which inspired the Confederates.

    2. Zenon, run it by me before you post another stupid piece of anti-Russian propaganda. I’m serious.

    3. Well, if the Confederate flag could make its way into the Bosnian war, why not this one?…..etty_Flame

    4. Exactly. They are using the Russian naval flag as a symbol of Novorossia.
      Those insurgents believe the State Department orchestrated the revolution in Ukraine. and if they think anything at all about the Civil War, it’s probably that the South fought for slavery.

  5. The flag is a Russian inwention.

    1. By a Hero of the Soviet Union!

  6. For some reason this made me think of 2,000 Maniacs. I suppose that anything that makes me think of Herschell Gordon Lewis movies is a good thing.

    1. Don’t you mean 10,000 Maniacs?

      1. No, I don’t mean Natalie Merchant’s fucking terrible, awful band who got their name from a splatter movie but didn’t even have the style to keep the original name and changed it to 10,000. Holy shit do I hate that band. Merchant is like a female Morrissey. She never stops whining.

        1. Epi,
          You shouldn’t be so subtle; you need to tell us what you really think.

        2. Long time ago I had a neighbor who said he met her one time at a signing or something. He says to her “Hey, I like your music.” Her reply was “I am not a musician, I am an artist (pronounced ahhhtist).” He though to himself “No, you’re a fucking bitch” and has hated her since.

          1. “I am not a musician, I am an artist (pronounced ahhhtist).”

            Well, she’s was 50% correct.

        3. So you probably aren’t a Throwing Muses/Kristin Hersh man.

  7. Did Dukes of Hazard reruns finally make it there?

  8. Do not miss the Buzzfeed link to the Soviet posters. Not only does Buzzfeed appear to take the posters at face value, but there are comments.

    about 4 months ago
    Everything is propaganda and propaganda is necessary a bad thing. Capitalism is a sick economic system that puts profit before people and even though the Soviet Union had its faults but the fact is the USSR never had one day of peace. After the Oct. revolution in 1917 how many of you brained dead clueless idiots knew that 19 western imperialist countries invaded the Soviet Union. People live worst off in the former Soviet Republics now than they do did when the Soviet Union existed. Not one day went by with out the Soviet Union being under attack by Western Imperialism. You want to talk about propaganda how about the fact that Radio Free America beamed in false propaganda claiming the US was a land of milk and honey.

    1. “even though the Soviet Union had its faults”…
      Yeah, mass murder of some 80-90,000,000 innocent people sort of speaks to that.
      “but the fact is the USSR never had one day of peace.”
      You’ll have to speak to the dictators about that.
      “After the Oct. revolution in 1917 how many of you brained dead clueless idiots knew that 19 western imperialist countries invaded the Soviet Union.”
      “People live worst off in the former Soviet Republics now than they do did when the Soviet Union existed.”
      You might find some one who is, but no one is getting pulled out of bed to be shot anymore.
      Sorry, tired of calling the bullshit.

      1. Actually the US and Britain did aid the Whites during the Russian Civil War to combat the evils of Bolshevism.

        I will find sauce soon.

        1. Ian Fleming (author of the James Bond books) was a British covert ops guy doing covert ops against the Bolshies during the Russian civil war.

          1. Of course, the Soviets blamed everything they went wrong–which was a lot–on Western intervention, both during the civil war and later on. Got to have a bogeyman when you’re running a totalitarian state.

        2. Here’s some info:


          Also I don’t know how to link.

          1. Newsreel footage of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War:


            The Soviets used to demand reparations from the US for the invasion up until the 1980’s even though 7/9ths of the troops were Japanese and the Japanese continued the occupation until the 1920’s.

            The official casus belli was that the Soviets had reneged on a promise to return 50,000 Allied (mostly Czech) troops who had been fighting Germany on the Eastern Front and to prevent Allied materiel from falling into Central Powers or Soviet hands.

            Of course, Woodrow Wilson was a fanatical interventionist and he jumped at any chance to invade another country? which is why he invaded 11 countries 21 times (Mexico on three occasions) during his administration.

            That’s got to be the record for most military interventions by a US president…

        3. Kind of. They were there, but they didn’t really do anything meaningful in combat.

          If the western imperialists had really wanted to depose the Bolsheviks, they could have. They decided not to. Big mistake, in hindsight. Thank Woodrow for that one.

          1. Well considering there was a world war going on at the time or the world was just leaving a world war it does make sense why the Allies didn’t really contribute substantially to the RCW.

        4. Sansos|6.11.14 @ 12:36PM|#
          “Actually the US and Britain did aid the Whites during the Russian Civil War to combat the evils of Bolshevism.”

          Yes they did. With left-over weapons an unis.
          Both were dithering between supporting the Bolshies or the other (which included the Whites and about 6 or 8 other groups.
          Which leave the idiot above shy of 19 invading countries.
          (BTW, this book does well on the subject: “Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime”…..+on+Russia

  9. Seems most Russians aren’t any more familiar with US history than most USers are with Russian history.

    1. Europeans laugh at America’s poor knowledge of global events and politics but they are no better what so ever.

      1. 100% agree. Their opinions of America and its history and culture is staggeringly and shockingly superficial for such a so-called sophisticated society.

        Canadians are marginally better. In fact, I believe Canadians have no excuse in their ignorance given the proximity and access to all things American.

  10. Day. Made

  11. Russia stole their flag in the first place.

  12. They hate black people? I didn’t know there were any black people in Russia to hate.

    1. Plainly they’d like to reinstate slavery. That is the only reason possible. Bo Cara told me so. And if you think some other reason is possible, then you also plainly want to reinstate slavery, but you just aren’t honest enough to fess up.

    2. You’ve never heard of a Black Russian?

      /Captain Obvious

      1. So you use chocolate milk instead of milk?

    3. Actually, my daughter was friends with a girl whose parents came here to escape prejudice. The father is Sierra Leonese and the mother Ukrainian. They lived in Russia but just couldn’t take the constant abuse they received.

    4. A friend of mine went to his parents’ hometown in Belarus some years ago, and when he met his cousins he asked what they should go do for fun. Their response was that they are going to take him to see the nigger (literally nigger, not some Russian equivalent). And so they did; they went to the park and gawked at some homeless African dude.

    5. There was Pushkin, but they seem to like him there.

    6. I remember reading something a year or two back mentioning the US embassy having people insulting the guards because they were so ethnically diverse. Though I doubt that has any connection.

  13. Second attempt, I’m going for the hat tip:…

    Man posts anti-campaign stickers on stop signs against a judge. Police roll out the entire surveillance apparatus including red light camera footage, and dusting the stickers for finger prints.

  14. While there is most likely a ‘sensible’ explanation, I prefer to think that they’re all real big Skynyrd fans.

    And they would like you to give them back their bullets.

    1. and then three steps.

    2. Give me a P for Putin, Give me a P for…

    3. And they would like you to give them back their bullets.

      Only if they dress like Southern Rawkers.

    4. So they don’t care for Neil Young then either. Well the Ukrainians must like him.

      I can imagine the Ukrainians are warming up their 8-tracks and throwing in their cassettes of “Russian Man” as we type.

  15. Its’ because they’re racist! Look at them, all white people! White people! OMG!, the patriarchy!!!!

  16. General Lee would have been proud.

    Why, did he create the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia?

    1. He’s talking about the Duke boys’ car, numbskull.

      1. That’s brilliant. I mean, absolutely perfect. Crystalline.

        Reboot of The Dukes of Hazzard, with the General Lee being operated by a sentient AI.

        1. And a fembot cyborg with cut off jean shorts.

          1. So you’re thinking an HBO series?

            1. Why not? Who’s Boss Hog?

        2. Of course they will have crossover episodes with KITT and Michael Knight. The two cars were cousins.

          1. Right, one country cousin, one city cousin. Hijinks ensue.

  17. Sometimes a gaily colorful piece of cloth is just a gaily colorful piece of cloth.

    1. Tell that to Monica.

    2. “Men care more for the rag that is called a flag than for the rag that is called a newspaper.” – CK Chesterton

  18. Um, it would be more accurate to say that those pro-russian separatists are flying a flag based on the St. Andrew’s cross. Many flags are based on that, including the Scottish flag, the Union Jack (the flag of the UK), the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (commonly, but inaccurately referred to as “the” Confederate flag), or a modified Russian Naval Ensign. Wikipedia articles on all of those.

    “Identical except for the stars”. So, not really identical at all. Thanks for playing.

    1. If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.

    2. I suspected as much.

      I wonder if anyone has done any analysis between the Union Jack and the Confederate flag?

      That would be the obvious place from which it came.

      1. I agree. It’s not like the massive Scotch-Irish immigration to the (then) colony of Virgina is any secret.

      2. See comments by myself and others which address that.

        1. Also see the Wikipedia article on Flags of the Confederate States of America for an illustrated discussion.

  19. A bit of flag-nerd explanation is order. The reason these guys have no idea this looks like a Confederate flag, is because the “St. Andrews Cross” is *also* a traditional Russian flag and symbol of Russia. In the form of a blue saltire on a white background (the inverse of the Scottish flag), it’s still used for official purposes in Russia today, as in the flag of the Russian Navy. Take that, combine it with the red-white-and-blue colors that are also those of Russia, and ta-da: you have something that looks to American eyes like a Confederate flag. But it’s not because some idiot Russian-Ukrainian fascists googled “flag” and thought this one looked good without knowing about the CSA. Its origins are firmly rooted in Russian flag symbolism, and the superficial similarity is pure coincidence.

    Boo, fact-checkers!

    1. I find this far less compelling than the idea that Lynyrd Skynyrd helped foment a Ukrainian revolution.

      1. I wonder which song it was? The easy answer is “Free Bird.”

        1. The actual answer is “That Smell”

        2. I would have thought “Sweet Home Volgograd” or maybe “Gimme Three Steppes.” Nah, it’s probably “What’s Your Name, Not That We Don’t Know It Already As We Know Everything About You.”

  20. Since all of the inaccuracies of the artil have been pointed out, here’s some related but OT:

    WWE Russian character calls Obama a sissy, praises Putin

    CJ Perry would get it.

  21. So I now get Amazon adds selling confederate flags.


    1. You should purchase one.

    2. Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virgina … if your going to get the spam at least learn something.

      Just sum good ol’ boys!

    3. Corning|6.11.14 @ 1:01PM|#
      “So I now get Amazon adds selling confederate flags.”

      Strangely, I get ads with attractive women in revealing clothes!
      And I hardly ever buy revealing clothes for women!

  22. Don’t they know that the confederates lost and the Union ran a scorched earth campaign for revenge?

  23. Where were you when the Maidan people were hanging it along with every other white supremacist symbol? And whose side are you on?

  24. But, again, this separatist movement is anti-Western.

    The separatists are Russians who want to ally with Russia, they don’t care about being ‘anti-Western’. For context here’s some gruesome (I warned you) video of some middle-aged women having limbs blown off by ‘pro-Western’ Ukraine forces in Lugansk last week.

  25. Wikipedia says Peter the Great gave the Russian Navy a St. Andrew’s Cross flag before Jeff Davis was *born.*

    St. Andrew isn’t the exclusive possession of the Scots or the CSA. His symbol is based on the cross he was nailed to. The story belongs to all Christendom.

    Russian separatists still suck, though.

    1. Huh, huh, Peter the Great.


      1. I think it’s “heh, heh”. From the back of the throat.

    2. 12:48 Eddie. Pwned.

      Also, not just xtians, unless you people have a copyright. Human history. /hth

      1. 12:48 Eddie. Pwned.

        How about half an hour before that?

        1. Oops, didn’t refresh. Kudos to you.

          1. Hey, I explained the religious significance.

  26. wouldn’t it be weird if instead of calling themselves “the State of Jefferson,” the breakaway group in California picked up a name from 1860s Russia

    Not so weird when you consider it was part of Russian North America.

    1. …which is why there’s a Russian River there. Wouldn’t it be weird if a city in Florida named itself St. Petersburg? Or a city in Idaho named itself Moscow?

  27. In the U.S. Civil War, the Czar was with the Union – the best European ally Lincoln had. As Punch put it:

    “Imperial son of Nicholas the Great,
    We air in the same fix, I calculate,
    You with your Poles, with Southern rebels I,
    Who spurn my rule and my revenge defy”…..lehaye.htm

  28. Liar. That flag has nothing to do with the Confederate South, racism or intolerance.

    It is St. Andrew’s Cross. It is a symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church. Zenon Evans shame on you for trying to paint Russian Christians has racists and bigots.

  29. actually, this is a slight modification of the russian naval jack, the same flag that was hoisted over alaska when it was first claimed for russia:

  30. It’s a Russian Saltire. Reason is manned by a bunch of hacks.

    1. Proof or fuck off troll.

  31. If you do a Google search for “Imperial Russian Navy flag”, you’ll find that the design is as much Russian as it might be American, although the examples on the first page of search results include a thin white cross behind the main design.

  32. “The insurgents, by their own admission, don’t know jack about Dixie”

    That’s OK. After decades of government schooling most Americans don’t either.

  33. This era of The Crucible can’t run its PC course fast enough.

  34. Look at what I found, it turns out Europe was sort of involved with the confederates.

    But not….. EASTERN Europe?

    1. Has nothing to do with the Confederacy. It is a modified Imperial Russian naval jack. If anything, Russians view the West (and America, in particular) with absolute disgust. Think Obama is bad? Putin actually called the fall of the Soviet Union the, “Worst Geopolitical Disaster Of The 20th Century.”

  35. Please read Russian history before posting an article with such a glaring flaw. This flag is a modified version of the Russian Imperial Naval Jack. There was one Imperial Naval jack, modified in honor of St. Andrew…

  36. ‘conservative manliness’ – oxymoron of the day.

  37. It is funny that the “Moscow Times” wouldn’t recognize an old *Russian* flag as pointed out here, it’s the old Tsarist Cross of St Andrews flag — and sort of sad that no fact checker at Reason did a simple search — “russian flag cross” gives you the answer in 2 seconds!

  38. It’s not about being a “Confederate Flag” but all about St George’s Cross. St. George is a patron Saint for Moscow, Georgia, Aragon, Catalonia, Barcelona, Bavaria, Beirut, Serbia, Lithuania, Hungary and Portugal among others. It makes sense that this warrior saint would symbolize the Ukrainian revolution.

    1. Opps, I meant St. Andrew’s Cross. LOL

  39. It certainly would seem strange if the Ukrainians were flying the US Confederate Southern Cross flag. However, the flag they are flying has been around far longer than the Confederate flag, and is not based on it in any way. It is based on the Russian naval jack, which has been in use since 1700, long before the Confederacy – or the United States, for that matter – existed. Ukraine has always been a major naval area – which is why you also see the old Soviet navy flag in a lot of images of the demonstrations. The Russian naval jack can be seen here

  40. I worked a summer at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond Virginia (we had the largest and most important Confederate Flag collection in the world- make a special reservation if you want to see the whole collection as only a few pieces are put out on public display at a time), and it is simply not true that the Confederate Battle Flag holds “no meaning” in Eastern Europe. It was a very popular symbol among those fighting for independence. So people in Eastern Europe are familiar with and as the sentiment behind the flag was independence FROM the United States government I don’t see why freedom fighters hostile to the government of the United States would have any problem associating with it.

    Other points in its favor- from a pure aesthetic standpoint, is one of the most visually beautiful flags ever created, and it happens to coincide with the national colors of Russia.

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