via Wikimedia Commons

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 judgement.

Apparently, Dale Samuel, Naval Attaché of the US 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.

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

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

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of


  1. Very brave. With diplomatic immunity, A somewhat overweight example of the American military, behaving rudely. Please resign your commission and go volunteer to fight with the Ukrainians. If you are still alive in 2 months tell us how it went.

    1. He just flipped off the Z, why the hell would he resign to go fight in Ukraine? He is disgusted by the invasion, doesn’t mean he supports Ukraine. Do you support Ukraine? I feel sorry for the civilians but it is none of our business. That’s a regional conflict of two countries in the former USSR.

  2. As a retired Air Force officer I question his timing although I agree with his opinion. I guess he forgot no one in a communist country is really free to express a contrary view. Stand by, because this movie will soon be at a theater near you. My wife already got a traffic camera ticket in friendly, middle America, Iowa – while I was driving, and she wasn’t even in the car! The Putin mentality is already well established in “America.”

  3. I feel his frustration but he has to remember that other countries don’t have the freedom of expression that we have in our wonderful country so he must learn to restrain himself.

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