Thousands of Ukrainians, especially former military service members, have posted under the hashtag #UkrainiansWillResist on social media to show that they will fight the Russian military if it invades and will not accept ultimatums of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The messages appeared in response to Russia’s buildup of 100,000 troops close to Ukrainian borders and in anticipation of the Dec. 7 talk between Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss Russia’s actions.
The social media campaign was launched by Andrii Levus, a former lawmaker and co-organizer of the Capitulation Resistance Movement that opposes what they see as President Volodymyr Zelensky’s concessions to Russia. Levus first posted the hashtag on Dec. 4 with the following message shared by thousands:
“Nobody can force Ukrainians to accept Putin’s ultimatum,” Levus wrote. “There will not be any ‘peace’ on Russia’s conditions. Even if the West will make a deal with Putin over Ukraine and Zelensky will capitulate, #UkrainiansWillResist the Russian occupiers. Welcome to hell, Mr. Putin!”
Like Levus, many people using the hashtag also posted pictures of themselves giving a rude forearm gesture directed at Putin and Russian troops.
Some showed their fists, like Andriy Antonenko, musician, former serviceman and defendant in the murder case of journalist Pavel Sheremet. Others posted pictures of them holding a firearm, like Yosyf Zissels, a Ukrainian Soviet dissident and a leader of the Ukrainian Jewish community. Levus also seems to hold a gun in his photo.
On Twitter, the hashtag was trending on Dec. 6, the Ukrainian Armed Forces Day.
Over 2,000 people have used the hashtag on Facebook, including lawmaker Sofia Fedyna, former lawmaker and serviceman Ihor Lapin, former officials Volodymyr Omelyan and Zorian Shkiryak.
Volodymyr Balukh, a Ukrainian activist from Crimea who was politically imprisoned by Russia, said that Ukrainians will not just resist as if they are “victims,” they will “overcome the resistance” of their enemies.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly indicated that the talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin were held on Nov. 7. In fact, they were held on Dec. 7. We thank our readers who pointed out the error.