Ukrainian soldiers have written tributes to Britain’s late Queen Elizabeth II down the side of bombs destined for Russian military targets.
Photos of the ammunition lined up in rows – ready to be launched in the direction of Vladimir Putin‘s invaders – featured messages in both English and Ukrainian.
‘R.I.P Queen Elizabeth II’ said the writing down the side of one of the Khaki green shell casings. Another said: ‘Keep calm and carry on’ – a reference to a famous motivational poster produced in 1939 in preparation for the Second World War.
Another photo showed more of the same ammo, but this time the messages were written in Ukrainian. One of the messages said: ‘Glory to The Queen,’ while another simply said ‘Elizabeth’.
The images were posted to Twitter by a user whose profile described himself as a Ukrainian artilleryman in Kyiv’s Air Assault Brigade.
‘Ukrainian artillery men’s sincere gratitude and respect to the remarkable leader of a great nation,’ he wrote, while posting the photos of the bombs.
Pictured: ‘R.I.P Queen Elizabeth II’ and ‘Keep calm and carry on’ is seen written down the side of Ukrainian artillery ammunition, in a tribute from Ukrainian soldiers to the late Queen
Another photo showed more of the same ammo, with messages written in Ukrainian. One of the messages says: ‘Glory to The Queen,’ while another simply says ‘Elizabeth’
The Queen – the longest-serving monarch in British history and an icon instantly recognisable to billions of people around the world – died on Thursday. She was 96.
Buckingham Palace announced her death in a short statement on Thursday, triggering 10 days of national mourning and an outpouring of tributes from around the world to her long life and record-breaking reign.
Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne aged just 25 in 1952 in the aftermath of World War II. Her 70-year reign straddled two centuries of seismic social, political and technological upheaval.
Since her death was announced, tributes to The Queen’s life have poured in from all corners of the globe, and particularly from world leaders – including Ukraine’s president and war-time leaders Volodymyr Zelensky.
He said he learned the news of Her Majesty’s passing ‘with deep sadness’.
‘On behalf of the people, we extend sincere condolences to the (royal family), the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over this irreparable loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.’
The images were posted to Twitter by a user whose profile described himself as a Ukrainian artilleryman in Kyiv’s Air Assault Brigade. Pictured: Ukrainian artillery unit fires with a 2S7-Pion, a self-propelled gun, at a position near a frontline in Kharkiv region on August 26
The pictures of the ammo are not the first time Ukrainian forces have been seen decorating their ammunition with messages for the Russian invaders since Putin first ordered his forces to invade on February 24.
In May, Kyiv‘s troops decorated the missiles with ‘warm’ messages to mark Ukraine’s World Embroidery Day, known as Vyshyvanka, which takes place on May 21.
The holiday promotes the tradition of creating and wearing embroidered Ukrainian clothes known as Vyshyvanka. A Vyshyvanka is a casual name for an embroidered shirt that is part of the country’s national costume.
The shirt was forbidden to be worn during the Soviet Union and was liberalized with the independence of Ukraine, and has become a symbol of defiance – and is more relevant than ever with Russia‘s on-going invasion of the country.
Video at the time showed Ukrainian service men and women carefully painting missiles with a variety of colourful patterns to mark the holiday – before launching them with deadly intent at Russian military positions.
One fighter painted three rockets with pink and blue flowers along its casing, and a message down the side. The soldier was then seen proudly laying the three missiles out in a row on the back of a Ukrainian military vehicle – ready to be launched.
As the sad news of the Queen’s death dominated headlines across the globe on Thursday and Friday, swiftly advancing Ukrainian troops were bearing down on the main railway supplying Russian forces in the east.
This followed the collapse of a section of Russia’s front line caused the most dramatic shift in the war’s momentum since its early weeks.
In a video address, Zelensky said Ukrainian troops had ‘liberated dozens of settlements’ and reclaimed more than 385 square miles of territory in the east and south in the past week.
In May, Kyiv’s troops decorated the missiles with flowers and ‘warm’ messages for World Embroidery Day, known locally as Vyshyvanka, which takes place in Ukraine on May 21
Zelenskiy posted a video in which Ukrainian soldiers said they had captured the eastern town of Balakliia, which lies along a stretch of front stretching south of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
The Ukrainian military said it had advanced nearly 30 miles through that front after an assault that appeared to take the Russians by surprise.
That would make it by far the fastest advance by either side in the war since Russia was forced to abandon its disastrous assault on the capital Kyiv in March.
Moscow has so far offered no official response to the reports of the breakthrough on the Kharkiv front.
Ukraine has yet to allow independent journalists into the area to confirm the extent its advances.
But Ukrainian news websites have shown pictures of troops cheering from the top of armoured vehicles as they roar past street signs bearing the names of previously Russian-held towns, and Russian forces surrendering on the side of the road.
The Institute for the Study of War think tank said the Ukrainians were now within just 15 km of Kupiansk, an essential junction for the main railway lines that Moscow has been using for months to supply its forces on the battlefields in the east.
Since Russia’s forces were defeated near Kyiv in March, Moscow has waged a relentless war of attrition, using its firepower advantage to press slow advances by bombarding towns and villages.
But that tactic depends on tonnes of ammunition a day reaching the front line by train from western Russia.
Until now, Russia had successfully fended off all attempts by Ukraine to cut off the train line. The Ukrainian general staff said early on Friday retreating Russian forces were trying to evacuate wounded personnel and damaged military equipment.
‘Thanks to skilful and coordinated actions, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with the support of the local population, advanced almost 50 km in three days.’
Pictured: Russian soldiers are seen sitting on top of an armoured vehicle in the Kherson region of Ukraine, in a pictured released by Russia today
The surprise Ukrainian breakthrough in the east came a week after Kyiv announced the start of a long-awaited counter-offensive hundreds of km away at the opposite end of the front in Kherson province in the south.
Ukrainian officials say Russia moved thousands of troops south to respond to the Kherson advance, leaving other parts of the frontline exposed and weakly defended.
‘We found a weak spot where the enemy wasn’t ready,’ presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video posted on YouTube.
Less information so far has emerged about the campaign in the south, with Ukraine keeping journalists away and releasing few details to keep its full plans secret.
Ukraine has been using new Western-supplied artillery and rockets there to hit Russian rear positions, with the aim of trapping thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the wide Dnipro River and cutting them off from supplies.
Arestovych acknowledged progress in the south had not yet been as swift as the sudden breakthrough in the east.
Russia’s state news agency RIA quoted Russian-appointed Kherson authorities as saying some Ukrainian troops were captured during the counterattack and an undisclosed number of Polish tanks they were using had been destroyed. Reuters could not verify those reports.
Ukrainians gather on Khreschatyk Street to see the seized military equipment and weapons including tank and motorized artillery systems belonging to the Russian army displayed by Ukraine ahead of the country’s 31st anniversary of Independence Day in Kyiv, August 21
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv on Thursday and announced a package of $2.2 billion in military financing for countries at risk of Russian aggression, nearly half of it for Ukraine. Washington also announced a separate $675 million of new weapons for Ukraine.
North of the battlefield, Russia has continued firing at Kharkiv. Missiles struck multiple areas there on Thursday, causing widespread damage and casualties, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.
‘We are scared … You can’t get used to it, never,’ resident Olena Rudenko told Reuters. Russia denied targeting civilians.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions have been driven from their homes and cities have been flattened since Moscow launched what it calls a ‘special military operation’ in February to ‘disarm’ Ukraine.