Analysis & Opinions - Inkstick

In Ukraine, The Javelin Is More Than a Weapon

| Mar. 04, 2022

How the Javelin missile became Ukraine’s savior and symbol of resistance.

In a country full of cell phone cameras and major media outlets — and as a rapidly changing major conflict — images of the Russian invasion of Ukraine flood television and social media. Twitter serves as a rough chronological catalog of ongoing firefights with various hashtags providing information, with #Ukraine#UkraineRussiaWar, and #UkraineWar being a few. Amid this backdrop, one weapon in particular features as an outsized symbol of Ukrainian resistance: the Javelin missile.

The unending information, along with the juxtaposition of its varying quality, makes for a complicated social dialogue. Often, though, public discourse parses through this complexity and identifies a more simple narrative. One emerging narrative is that of the material and symbolic importance of the Javelin missile. Among the Stinger missiles, Main Battle Tank and Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAWS), and now even Soviet-era Strela missiles, it’s the Javelin that seems to have disproportionately captured public attention. But is the Javelin a divine tool of intervention or simply one of the more effective weapons on battlefields across Ukraine?


Though predating the recent Russian invasion, an image of Mary Magdalene holding a Javelin missile, displayed in the style of Eastern Orthodox iconography, started to flood social media. Commonly referred to as Saint Javelin, this image symbolizes much of the seemingly miraculous Ukrainian resistance against overwhelming Russian forces. A website now features stickers and other items for sale, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few days to support Ukrainian orphans and victims of violence.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Parent, Matthew.“In Ukraine, The Javelin Is More Than a Weapon.” Inkstick, March 4, 2022.

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