1. In Ukraine, the orange and black St. George’s ribbon, a patriotic symbol associated with World War II in the former Soviet Union, has been adopted by pro-Russian separatist groups and their supporters.
2. The ribbon is particularly popular in Russia around May 9, when the country celebrates victory in WWII. On social media and Russian-language internet forums, people are tagging photos “separatyaka” or “little separatist.”
3. “My separatist kitty.”
4. To complete the look, some cats have added Soviet military garb.
5. This cat has been turned into a live St. George’s ribbon.
6. Not to be outdone, dogs are also supporting the separatist cause.
8. Some have copied the pro-Russian militants’ masked look.
“Are you for the Donbass?” the man asks the dog, referring to the region in eastern Ukraine that remains out of the Kiev government’s control. “Are you for Russia? Are you for the Donetsk People’s Republic? Are you for freedom? Are you going to fight for freedom?”
9. “Separatist dog. Cutie. :)”
10. “Separatist bunny.” The flag bears the colors of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
11. “Separatist goose. Normal owners have normal pets.”
12. Pro-Russian forces have apparently welcomed the support.
“Being a separatist means…loving a kitten.”
Pro-Russian separatists have behaved less tenderly to the journalists, politicians and activists they have kidnapped in eastern Ukraine. Western governments, including the U.S., say Russia is behind the militants’ power grab. “Of course there’s local unhappiness but it’s clear that there’ve been efforts from outside to stir the pot and destabilize the situation,” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told BuzzFeed.
Russia has denied allegations that it aided separatist groups in eastern Ukraine. After Russian President Vladimir Putin called for separatists in Donetsk region to postpone an independence referendum planned for May 11, the future of the movement remains unclear.