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Truth behind 'nazi-like' symbol on Zelensky's T-shirt

Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's virtual meeting with US Congress, social media posts shared hundreds of times claimed he was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a "Nazi symbol".

In fact, the symbol represents the Ukrainian military. A representative for the Ukrainian embassy in Thailand said it did not relate to Nazism.

"After too many jokes, Zelensky accidentally wears a shirt with a Nazi symbol like Hitler," reads a Thai-language Facebook post from March 17.

It shows a photo of Zelensky, a TV comedian turned wartime leader, wearing a T-shirt with a cross symbol during a virtual address he gave to US Congress on March 16, in which he made a plea for help against the Russian invasion.

A second photo shows Adolf Hitler wearing a shirt with a similar emblem.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post about Zelensky's shirt, with a red cross through it to show the claim is false.
An image of the misleading Facebook post about the symbol on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's shirt, with a red cross through it to show the claim is false. Source: Facebook via AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin has justified the Ukraine invasion saying he wants to "demilitarise" and "denazify" Kyiv authorities.

Zelensky, who is Jewish and whose family lost relatives during the Holocaust, hit back by saying the Kremlin used "Nazi terminology" in characterising its objectives in Ukraine.

Multiple Facebook posts shared the same picture alongside the claim it showed Zelensky wearing a "Nazi symbol".

A similar photo of Zelensky wearing the same T-shirt also circulated on Twitter with a similar claim.

However, this claim is false.

The symbol on Zelensky's T-shirt corresponds to the symbol for Ukraine's armed forces, as seen on its official website.

Screenshot comparison of Zelensky giving his March 16 address on the Left and the symbol of Ukraine's Armed Forces on the Right
The symbol in question is the symbol of Ukraine's Armed Forces. Source: BBC/AFP

The emblem of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Dmytro Deineko, specialist for consular and administrative issues at the Ukrainian embassy of Thailand told AFP the symbol on Zelensky's T-shirt "is the emblem of the Armed Forces of Ukraine".

"The symbol is a crimson cross with a Trident in the middle," he said. "I confirm that it has nothing to do with the symbol of Germany during the Second World War."

The Iron Cross was a Prussian military award used from 1813 and revived by Hitler in 1939.

AFP has debunked a wave of misleading claims about the Ukraine conflict.

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