US Naval Attaché in Moscow Flips Off Russian ‘Z’ Symbol – Gets Threatened by Russian Lawmaker on TV

Screenshot from Twitter

As a former Acting U.S. Naval Attaché who made a few mistakes myself, I can understand the sentiment and admire this officer’s courage, but maybe not his judgment.

Dale Samuel, Naval Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, took a selfie while flipping off a sticker of a ‘Z’ symbol on a pole while cycling through the Russian capital. But that wasn’t the real issue.

The problem is the U.S. military diplomat, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), as all attaches are, got caught on CCTV camera.

And like any good American military man, once he realized it, he doubled down and flipped off the camera as well as he left in his car.

American Military News (AMN) notes:

The “Z” has come to serve as a major symbol of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, hundreds of Russian tanks, armored vehicles and troop transports entered the country with a white “Z” painted on their tops and sides. It is not clear what the original meaning of the Russian “Z” symbol is and there is no such letter in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet.

The images of the suspected U.S. military officer flipping off this symbol of Russian aggression against Ukraine enraged Russian commentators.

AMN adds that:

During a June 23 panel discussion on the state-run Russia 1 television channel, Russian Duma lawmaker Aleksey Zhuravlyov said, “Let this bitch step out once again. We’re going to find him. Step out, ride out of the Embassy. I’ll personally explain to you, bastard, what country you’re in and how you’re supposed to treat these symbols. If I don’t manage to do this, then our activists will do that. Go for a ride, we’re waiting for you, bastard.”

Meanwhile, “The Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] is looking into the matter and will refer credible allegations for appropriate action,” DIA spokeswoman Amanda Schuler-Zepp told Navy Times.

If the Attaché gets ‘pinged’ (declared ‘persona non grata’) by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or DIA/State Department, recall him back to Washington.

Justified or not, after incidents like this, it becomes extremely difficult, if not untenable, to do your job. Dale may be riding a desk at DIA HQ in D.C. very soon. ADN


Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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