Reports from Ukraine: This feature is part of an original Milwaukee Independent editorial series that recorded news from cities across Ukraine, including Milwaukee's sister city of Irpin, in May 2022. It was the first and, at that time, only news organization in Wisconsin that traveled to the country since it was invaded. The purpose of this journalism project was to document personal stories and events that detailed or showed the conditions of the war at that time, and their connections to Milwaukee.

Ukrposhta, Ukraine’s Post Office, issued another two stamps commemorating the sinking of the Russian warship Moskva on May 23. It was the first time residents in war-torn Irpin had the chance to purchase the highly valued collectables.

The Russian flagship Moskva began an assault on Snake Island, a small but strategic Ukrainian island in the Black Sea, on February 24. A contingent of 13 border guards were stationed there at the time of the attack.

The Moskva called on the soldiers to surrender the island, which was firmly declined by its defenders. The reply, translated into English, became a global symbol of Ukrainian bravery and resistance against Russia’s assault.

Now credited to Roman Hrybov, his answer to the Russian ultimatum was “Russian warship, go f@ck yourself.”

Ukraine’s postal service launched a competition in early April to illustrate the incident. Out of more than 500 submissions, a design by Boris Groh was selected. His artwork depicted a Ukrainian soldier from behind making an obscene gesture at the Russian Black Sea flagship.

Originally, the stamp was only available in Kyiv. Even so, Ukrainians traveled great distances and waited in the long lines to purchase, seeing it as a sign of victory.

As an added irony, the Moskva – the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and most prized Russian vessel in its navy, was sunk on April 13 as a result of damage from Ukrainian missiles.

The new stamps continue the original theme, based on Boris Groh’s artwork issued on April 12. Groh’s original design showed a soldier on Snake Island flipping off the Moskva. For the new stamp design, the ship has been removed.

The date of its sinking was added to the new design. Also included is the message “Russian Warship … DONE!” in English and Ukrainian.

Even though Irpin’s government has not announced that the public can return, as it works to repair vital public infrastructure, residents have come home and the city no longer appears like a ghost town. For the release of the commemorative stamps, there was a long line of a couple hundred people.

The stamp release was one of the first public events held in Irpin since its liberation at the end of March. While even the post office showed signs of scars from the war, the interest and excitement around the stamp gave residents a brief return to normal life.

© PHOTO NOTE: All the original editorial images published here have been posted to the Facebook page of Milwaukee Independent. That collection of photos contains the MI copyright and watermark for attribution, and may be used for private social media sharing. Do not download and share images directly from this page.

Series: Reports from Ukraine
  1. Reports from Ukraine: Traveling from Milwaukee to a country at war just to take a vacation from America
  2. Images from Ukraine: Latino artist travels to Irpin to paint mural inspired by "Echoes of Guernica"
  3. Images from Ukraine: Irpin residents welcome reissue of Russian Warship Stamp as latest sign of victory
  4. Stories from Ukraine: Wandering in the ruins of a shattered life after surviving Russia's invasion
  5. Images from Ukraine: Similar to the Alamo, martyred cities bought precious time to save a nation
  6. Stories from Ukraine: Tent camp offers shelter for displaced residents until Irpin can rebuild lost homes
  7. Images from Ukraine: Graveyards of Russian war machines show the scale of Putin's failure to seize Kyiv
  8. Images from Ukraine: Following the invasion convoy's 40-mile route and exploring an abandoned base
  9. Stories from Ukraine: Illegal weapons and proof of Russian War Crimes easily seen along streets of Irpin
  10. Images from Ukraine: How Irpin’s cemetery processed the staggering massacre of its local citizens
  11. Stories from Ukraine: Healing remains slow as Borodyanka residents recover from occupation
  12. Images from Ukraine: The deep scars of war remain visibly etched across the landscape of Borodyanka
  13. Interview with Oleksandr Markushin: Mayor of Irpin and the hero of a Hero City
  14. A Meeting of Sister Cities: Former and current Mayors of Irpin ask Milwaukee's business community for help
  15. Stories from Ukraine: Having a shared purpose helped Irpin's leaders protect the city and stop the invaders
  16. Stories from Ukraine: How Milwaukee helped a bakery feed hungry survivors in Bucha with fresh bread
  17. Stories from Ukraine: Bucha resident recalls how Russians turned neighborhood into a street of death
  18. Stories from Ukraine: How a mass grave of executions overshadowed accountability from Bucha’s leadership
  19. Images from Ukraine: Putin’s attack on Babyn Yar is a painful reminder of the broken vow of “Never Again”
  20. Images from Ukraine: An unexpected encounter with Jewish history and the bloody legacy of persecution
  21. Images from Ukraine: Listening to timeless voices of ethnic heritage etched in stone at Lychakiv Cemetery
  22. Images from Ukraine: The experience of attending a military funeral in Kyiv while children died in Uvalde
  23. Images from Ukraine: Stepping out of the fog of war to see the beauty of faith in ancient places of worship
  24. Images from Ukraine: The cities of Kyiv and Lviv were divided by history but remain united in identity
  25. Stories from Ukraine: Anya Nakonechna shares why the Lviv Opera is a symbol of her nation’s culture
  26. Images from Ukraine: A folk village where visitors can experience the life of past generations
  27. Images from Ukraine: Signs of renewal sprout from under Irpin’s rubble as city looks to the future

Lее Mаtz

Lее Mаtz

Milwaukee Independent editorial team for this special series: (UKRAINE) Lee Matz, photojournalist; Oleh Pinta, translator / reporter; Yaroslav Zdyrko, security / videographer; (MILWAUKEE) Halyna Salapata, logistics / translations.

Milwaukee Independent has reported on the situation in Ukraine since it was invaded on February 24. Coverage originally began with reactions and rallies from the local Ukrainian American community, and relationships with Milwaukee’s sister city of Irpin. Through partnerships and good journalism, sources were developed that enabled Milwaukee Independent to publish developments about the unprovoked war in realtime. In late May, a team from Milwaukee Independent spent nearly two weeks on the ground in Ukraine. The award-winning daily news magazine was the first and, at the time, only media organization to send staff into the country since the war began.

Reports from Ukraine: An extensive news series by Milwaukee Independent from a country at war