‘We are all Ukrainian.’ How the yellow-and-blue flag won over Europe – POLITICO

The yellow-and-blue flag of Ukraine has turn into a robust image for hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout the Western world who need to specific their solidarity with the victims of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

Adopted formally in 1992, the yr after Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union, the banner represents the nation’s delight in its standing as Europe’s bread basket — simply image infinite wheat fields beneath blue skies.

In the early days of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the colours have been displayed on a few of Europe’s most well-known landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to the Brandenburg Gate.

Over the course of the yr since, the flag has unfold to all corners of the Continent and past, in the arms of protesters, on official authorities buildings in London and Washington, and in the home windows of personal properties and automobiles.

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin | John Mcdougall/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

European Fee headquarters | Nicolas Maeterlinck/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

Munich’s tv tower | Christof Stache/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

The Eiffel Tower | Bertrand Guay/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

The flag not solely got here to suggest Ukraine’s courageous resistance in a warfare that ended a long time of peace in Europe — it rapidly turned the hallmark of European unity in the face of the greatest state-backed risk to the Continent’s safety this century.

On a go to to Kyiv in January, Charles Michel, the European Council’s president, captured the level.

“With the Maidan rebellion, 22 years after gaining your independence, you, Ukrainians mentioned: We are European,” Michel said. “So right this moment, I’ve come to Ukraine to let you know: We are all Ukrainian.”

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris and Volodymyr Zelenskyy | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Photographs

Julien De Rosa/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

Bulent Kilic/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

Past political symbols, Putin’s invasion triggered the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World Battle II.

Inside weeks, European governments rushed to welcome in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, skipping administrative procedures at a pace that prompted some to lift eyebrows.

Benedicte Simonart was one in all the founders of a Brussels-based NGO BEforUkraine, whose emblem options the Belgian and Ukrainian flags facet by facet. She was “struck” by the solidarity of these early days. “It was unbelievable: Individuals stored coming to us, they have been so keen to assist,” she mentioned.

“We felt very near the Ukrainians,” she added. “Ukraine is the door to Europe, it’s nearly as if it was our house.”

As the warfare has dragged on, European resolve has remained secure at a political degree and in surveys of public opinion. The query is how lengthy this may final if the battle continues.

“One yr in the past, Europe got here collectively very strongly and really supportively,” mentioned Erik Jones, director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Superior Research at the European College Institute.

“I’m very to see what that is going to do over the long term in the method Europeans take into consideration themselves,” Jones added. “As we method this one-year anniversary, I believe it’s actually essential to ask: Do now we have the similar energy as a group to assist Ukraine by way of what could also be a really lengthy battle?”

For now no less than, Europe and Ukraine appear nearer than ever. Ukrainians, by way of the voice of their President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, make no secret of their need to hitch the EU — the sooner, the higher.

And the highly effective symbolism of the flag continues to paint European cities and cities, a gesture that’s welcomed by Ukrainians who are now residing in Europe.

“The flag is essential: it’s the image of Ukraine, and we have to preserve displaying it, to speak about it, to remind folks,” mentioned Artem Datsii. “As a result of the warfare goes on.”

Datsii, 21, is a scholar at the College of Geneva (Switzerland), the place he moved earlier than the warfare. He has not seen his dad and mom, who stay in Kyiv, for a yr, however they communicate frequently over the telephone.

“At house, everyone seems to be afraid that one thing will occur on the twenty fourth,” Datsii mentioned, referring to the invasion’s one-year marker. “The Russians love anniversaries.”

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