Have any Russian cosmonauts been seen wearing Ukrainian colors?

In February 2022, in the days after Russia launched an attack on Ukraine, people around the world showed their support for Ukraine by donning the colors blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. So when a photo began circulating in March 2022 showing Russian cosmonauts wearing these colors, many people assumed they were expressing their opposition to the war from the relative safety of the International Space Station.

For example, former NASA astronaut Scott Kelley wrote on Twitter: “Three Russian cosmonauts who just docked with the ISS arrive in Ukrainian yellow!”

This is a real photo of Russian cosmonauts in blue and yellow spacesuits aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in March 2022. However, this seems more coincidental than a political statement.

Here’s a video of the cosmonauts arriving at the International Space Station:

Astronauts don’t really have the luxury of going into their closets or running to the store to pick out a wardrobe that’s current. Instead, they must wear spacesuits designed and made in the months leading up to their mission. In other words, these blue-and-yellow spacesuits were selected by these cosmonauts long before Russia launched its attack on Ukraine in February 2022.

Oleg Artemyev, one of the cosmonauts above, said the same thing when asked about the spacesuits during a livestream. According to The Associated Press, Artemyev said, “It was our turn to pick a color. But in fact we had accumulated a lot of yellow material, so we had to use it. That’s why we had to wear yellow.”

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, also rejected the idea that these cosmonauts were wearing blue-and-yellow spacesuits in support of Ukraine. In a Telegram message, Roscosmos said that “sometimes yellow is just yellow”, that the “design of the uniform was agreed upon long before current events”, and that these colors were chosen as a nod to the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, where all three cosmonauts graduated. Here is a screenshot from the Roscosmos Telegram channel with the school’s emblem:

While it is true that these Russian cosmonauts wore blue-and-yellow spacesuits, these colors were not chosen as an expression of support for Ukraine.

sources:

Bryner, Joanna. “Why did Russian cosmonauts wear colors with Ukrainian flag?” Livescience.Com, March 20, 2022, https://www.livescience.com/why-russian-cosmonauts-ukraine-flag-colors.

Levitt, Ross and Kristin Fisher. “Russian cosmonauts spark speculation after arriving at the International Space Station in Ukraine’s colors.” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/19/politics/russian-cosmonauts-ukraine-international-space-station/index.html. Accessed March 21, 2022.

Malik, Tariq. “Russia rejects reports that cosmonauts’ yellow and blue flight suits refer to Ukraine.” Space.Com, March 20, 2022, https://www.space.com/russia-denies-cosmonauts-wore-ukraine-colors.

Shivaram, Deepa. “Russian cosmonauts board the space station in blue and yellow, the colors of Ukraine.” NPR, March 19, 2022. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2022/03/19/1087722545/russian-cosmonauts-space-station-ukraine-colors.

Flamis, Kelsey. “Russian cosmonauts boarded the International Space Station in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, but it may not seem like a sign of support.” Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/russian-cosmonauts-board-international-space-station-in-ukraine-colors-2022-3. Accessed March 21, 2022.

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