What is the red and black flag in Ukraine?

Ukraine is the land, our fertile, black, the wealthiest black soil in the world, for which the best sons of Ukraine shed their blood. The Ukrainian land is black, and the blood of the fighters who went “to take it from the enemy” is red. And isn’t the combination of these colors – red and black – a symbolic definition of Ukraine – a struggling Ukraine?

Ukrainian writer, Vasyl Stefanyk

The combination of red and black colors in the world and Ukrainian tradition is not rare.

The colors red and black were very often used in Ukrainian history. They could be seen on vyshyvankas (national clothes), on krashankas (painted Easter eggs), and rushnyky (embroidered towels).

Vyshyvanka with red and black colors

An interesting fact is that in the left part of the painting Reply of the Zaporozian Cossacks, the Cossacks hold spears, the shafts of which are painted in blue-yellow and red-black colors.

Historians consulted the painter Illia Repin, which gives us an idea that red and black flags were used back by Cossacks.

Ilia Repin. Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. 1880 – 1891

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But we find more evidence of these colors used in Ukrainian flags in the 20th century. In November 1916, the Order of the Iron Spur was established by the members of the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. They had red and black colors in their clothes and emblem.

The cover of the book Mykola Ughryn-Bezgrishny Orden of the Iron Spur. Rohatyn, 1934

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In 1922 the Scout organization Plast started using red and black color flags.

Economist Bohdan Havrylyshyn in the Plast uniform

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Since 1941, the OUN (The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) has used the red and black flag and emblem under Stepan Bandera’s leadership.

Award of the OUN, the 1940s

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The II Great Assembly of the OUN adopted the revolutionary flag: red and black. The red color is a symbol of struggle and blood, and black is a symbol of the Ukrainian land. So, the revolutionary flag symbolizes the endless, bloody battle for the Ukrainian land.

The rebels of UPA (the Ukrainian Insurgent Army) also used red and black in their symbols: the flag and combat insignia.

UPA combat insignia

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In known cases of the use of the red and black flag, it does not appear independently but alongside the blue-yellow one. The red and black flag was secondary. It became a symbol of the nationalistmovement and the liberation struggle in general.

Blue and yellow and red and black flags at the ceremony of initiation to UPA

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The patriotic organizations used the flag of the Ukrainian liberation movement in every important meeting, protest, and revolution.

The red and black flag at the anti-Soviet protest. Kyiv 1990

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In 2014, numerous units, especially volunteers, had this flag.

The Ukrainian flag is colored in blood

Nowadays, the red and black flag is presented alongside the official one. These two flags are united as the yellow color changes to red, and the blue one changes to black after the blood is spilled on it.

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