Ukraine issues Crimean Bridge strike stamp on Russia’s Unity Day

Postal service follows up April’s limited edition stamp celebrating attack on Russian flagship Moskva

Ukraine’s state postal service has issued a commemorative wartime stamp dedicated to the strike on the Crimean Bridge last month, which sparked celebrations across the country.

Its release has been timed to coincide with Russia’s Unity Day on 4 November.

The Crimean Bridge was built to connect Russia to the territory it illegally annexed in 2014, and symbolised the country’s eternal control over the peninsula and its regional impunity. President Vladimir Putin was there to open it.

For Ukrainians, the bridge was a reminder of Russia’s occupation and their inability to act against Russia, then widely considered the world’s third most powerful army.

Designed by the Ukrainian artist Yuriy Shapoval, the stamp shows the bridge behind clouds of dark grey smoke. In the forefront is the famous scene from the Titanic, where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet stand on the bow of the ship a reference to Russia’s claims that the bridge was unsinkable.

Ihor Smelianskyi, the CEO of Ukrposhta, Ukraine’s state postal service, wrote on Telegram that the stamp showed “the Titanic efforts by our people and our armed forces”.

“Our bridge is standing strong, their bridge is as tired as their ideology,” Smelianskyiwrote about the stamp’s launch on the footbridge in Kyiv that was shaken when a Russian missile landed next to it a few weeks ago. “Today eight years, eight months, eight days as Russians began their attack and hope our victory is less than eight months ahead.”

Our bridge is standing strong, their bridge is as tired as their ideology. Was happy to launch “Crimean Bridge” stamp with @rustem_umerov on Kyiv bridge. Today 8 years, 8 months, 8 days as russians began their attack and hope our victory is less than 8 months ahead. @OlKubrakov

— Igor Smelyansky (@smelyansky_igor) November 4, 2022

Early on 8 October, dramatic videos emerged of a large explosion engulfing the bridge in fire. Witnesses published pictures of the damaged bridge, parts of which had collapsed into the Kerch strait.

As with a string of explosions at Russian bases in Crimea over the summer, Ukraine did not take responsibility for the attack. But senior Ukrainian officials publicly rejoiced in a way that left little doubt over who was behind it.

The head of Ukraine’s national security council posted a video of the explosion to the tune of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr President.” The day before the strike had been Putin’s 70th birthday.

Russia blamed Ukrainian special forces and described it as an act of terrorism. At least three people died in the attack, according to Russia’s investigative committee.

What is still not clearis how the attack on the bridge was carried out. Recent footage of marine drones – believed to be controlled by Ukrainian forces – speeding towards the Admiral Makarov near Sevastopol, Crimea, is one possible method put forward by experts.

Flame and smoke rise from Crimean Bridge on 8 October 2022
Flame and smoke rise from the Crimean Bridge on 8 October. Photograph: AP

With the help of western weapons and financing, Ukrainians have secured what many doubted at the beginning of the invasion – successive Russia retreats. But perhaps one of the most surprising outcomes of the war has been the explosions and strikes on Russia military bases deep inside Crimea and on Russian warships in the Black Sea.

Ukraine issued its first wartime stamp in April. The limited edition stamp, which has since become a collector’s item, depicts a Ukrainian soldier sticking their middle finger up at the Russian Moskva flagship as it sinks into the Black Sea. The attack on the Moskva was a much-needed boost for Ukraine at a time when Russia was pounding Ukrainian forces with artillery across the frontlines and western weapons were slow to arrive.

On the edge of the sheet of stamps was the slogan “Russian warship go fuck yourself!”, though with the profanity omitted. The words were first spoken by Roman Hrybov when a Russian warship asked him and his crew to surrender on Snake Island hours after Russia launched his invasion. Hrybov’s words went viral and became a wartime rallying call for Ukrainians.

Ukraine has printed 7m Crimean Bridge stamps that will be available at all Ukrposhta post offices from Friday, said Smelianskyi. The perforated edge of the stamp has a picture of a blue road sign with Crimean Bridge written in Russianmarked in red with the Ukrainian word and “encore!”


Isobel Koshiw in Kyiv

The GuardianTramp

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