Moscow Trolls U.S. With Pro-Invasion Name for Russian Square Near Embassy

Moscow's city government is asking residents to pick a name glorifying Russia's invasion of Ukraine for a square located outside the U.S. embassy.

Officials in Russia's capital are asking residents to vote on a list of three names for the square that all exalt Russian-backed separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine. The naming of the currently nameless square, which shares a block with the U.S. embassy, is a thinly veiled affront to Washington and a further sign of deteriorating relations between the two countries over the war in Ukraine.

The list of names submitted by Moscow's city government for the square includes "Defenders of Donbas Square," "Donetsk People's Republic Square" and "Hero of Russia Vladimir Artyomovich Zhoga Square," reported The Moscow Times.

The names refer to Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists are currently fighting Ukrainian forces. The region, which has a large population Russian-speaking population, has seen separatists declare independent republics for Donetsk and Luhansk.

Vladimir Zhoga was a separatist military leader killed earlier this year during the fighting.

U.S. Embassy in Moscow
A picture taken on December 30, 2016 shows a general view of a historical bulding of the US Embassy in Moscow. Officials in Russia's capital city said recently they are going to rename a square near the U.S. embassy in a thinly veiled swipe at Washington. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images) ALEXANDER NEMENOV//Getty Images

"The Moscow city administration has received numerous requests from citizens with different names [for the square], so we decided to put the issue to a city-wide vote," the city's Active Citizen platform said, per the Times.

The platform had registered 25,000 votes and did not indicate when it would close. Residents also have the option of leaving the decision up to local officials.

Moscow's city council said earlier this month on its Telegram channel that it was seeking to name the square at the corner of Bolshoi Devyatinsky Lane and Konyushkovskaya Street to honor "the heroes who are fighting Nazism." Russia said it attacked Ukraine to de-nazify the latter's pro-European government, a justification that's been dismissed by Western powers.

Cities in Albania, Latvia and Lithuania have all renamed roads honoring Ukraine's forces in a gesture of support for the besieged country, U.K.'s Metro reported. In Scotland, a campaign is underway to rename the street where the Russian consulate is located.

The U.S. has earlier taken a similar swipe at Russia. In 2018, Congress passed legislation naming the street in front of the Russian embassy "Boris Nemtsov Plaza," in honor of a slain opposition leader.

"We are surprised, but not offended by the proposal of the Russian government to rename part of the center of Moscow near the US embassy 'Donbass Defenders Square,'" the U.S. embassy in Russia said in a Telegram post reacting to the poll.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian government for comment.