Pentagon Uses Upside-Down Ukrainian Flags in Meeting with 47 Countries

As Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley met on Monday with allies to drum up new weapons shipments to Kiev, they sat in front of four upside-down Ukrainian flags.

The gaffe wasn’t the first time that top-level politicians in Washington have gotten confused on the country they’re bankrolling.

Austin and Milley hosted a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a panel of 47 countries willing to supply Kiev with arms and other military aid. As Austin described efforts to secure “critically needed artillery systems and ammunition, coastal defense systems, tanks and other armored vehicles” for Kiev, observers soon noticed that something was amiss.

Behind Austin and Milley, four Ukrainian flags had been hung upside down, with yellow on top instead of blue.

Presumably the work of a Pentagon staffer, the mistake was not the first time that supporters of Ukraine have bungled the display of its distinctive flag.

Back in March, the AFL-CIO – the country’s largest labor union – tweeted out a picture of its executive council holding upside down Ukrainian flag posters that read “Stand with Ukraine.”

Traditionally, a national flag hung upside down is ominous.