US Diplomat’s ‘Middle Finger Salute’ Infuriates Moscow; Russian Lawmaker Warns Of ‘Consequences’ For The Insult

A Naval attache with the US Embassy in Moscow, Captain Dale Samuel, was found taking pictures pointing his middle finger to the letter ‘Z,’ which has become a symbol of Russia’s war in Ukraine, prompting a severe backlash from Russian media and politicians.

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The diplomat was riding a bicycle in the Russian capital when he came across the Z symbol on a street pole. He approached it and took a selfie while pointing his middle finger toward the letter.

Since then, photos of Captain Samuel have been doing the rounds on social media.

The Russian Embassy in Ukraine has also shared the images on its Twitter handle, saying, “Hope the #US Naval Attaché in Moscow is proud of his “very diplomatic” behavior. We heard @UnderSecStateP Victoria Nuland is giving out cookies as a reward.”

The letter ‘Z’ has become a fiercely pro-war sign in Russia, symbolizing President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to several accounts, the sign was first noticed on Russian combat vehicles on February 22, as they entered the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk.

Photos have appeared on social networks where the naval attache of the US Embassy in Moscow and Captain First Rank Dale Samuel shows the middle finger.
The naval attache of the US Embassy in Moscow and Captain First Rank Dale Samuel shows the middle finger to Letter Z on a street pole.

Other sources say, the emblem first appeared on combat vehicles in Crimea in 2014 after Russia took the peninsula.

The original intent behind the letter ‘Z’ was supposed to act as a mechanism for the Russian military and separatist forces to recognize each other and prevent the occurrence of friendly fire.

The sign became widely recognized and adopted by war supporters, which could have led the Russian government and the military’s public relations arm to use it to rally the masses in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

File Image: Russian Soldiers

Since the invasion, several products like vodka bottles, T-Shirts, and hoodies, labeled with the ‘Z’ symbol have come up on the shelves of Russian stores.

Backlash From Russian Media And Politicians

The Russian media outlets have called for Captain Samuel’s expulsion.

One Russian-language media report said the American diplomat had violated Russian law, and his actions fall under Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which covers public actions that discredit the Russian military.

Also, a Russian lawmaker, Aleksey Zhuravlyov, who leads the nationalist party Rodina (Motherland), has expressed fierce anger at the actions of Captain Samuel during an appearance on the Russia-1 program 60-minutes.

“Let this bi**h step out one more time. We’re going to find him. Step out, ride out of the embassy! I’ll personally explain to you, b****rd, what kind of a country you’re in and how you’re supposed to treat these symbols,” Zhuravlyov said.

He continued: “If I don’t manage to do this, then our activists will do that. Go for a ride; we’re waiting for you, b****rd!”

“This is a direct threat from me,” the Russian lawmaker warned. “And you, b****rd, will know what country you’re in. You will find out.”

Zhuravlyov believes the individual should be sent to jail “for insulting our army.”

“But he has immunity. Can he take a dump in the Red Square because of his immunity? No! No, no, we won’t allow that. They’ll have to reckon with us now,” he further said.

Zhuravlyov also said that he was looking for the individual in the photo and detailed what he would do to him once he found him.

“I’ll personally stick that finger where it belongs. It has to be in a certain spot,” Zhuravlyov said, making his fellow hosts laugh.

“I promise you, captain of the first rank, you’ll be taking fingers with a finger up your a**. That’s how you’ll be posing so that you’ll know what country you’re in. We’re Russian people, and we won’t forgive this,” he continued.

Official Address Of The US Embassy Changed

The news comes just as the authorities in Moscow changed the official address of the US embassy in the Russian capital and named it after pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine.

“The United States embassy in Russia has a new official address,” Moscow city hall said on June 22.

It said the embassy is now located at 1 Donetsk People’s Republic Square, referring to a breakaway east Ukrainian region that Russia recognized as independent shortly before invading Ukraine.

The embassy’s previous address was 8 Bolshoi Devyatinsky Lane.

Navigation signs “Donetsk People’s Republic Square” are installed near the Moscow US Embassy. (Pelagia Tikhonova / Moskva News Agency)

The city hall said that the new address was chosen in a public vote in which nearly 280,000 people participated.

In a similar gesture, back in 2018, a street outside the Russian embassy in Washington was named after a Russian opposition politician, Boris Nemtsov. He was shot dead outside the Kremlin in 2015.