Despite warnings to avoid flying the US flag in the conflict zone, American Volunteer Group-Ukraine team leader Fred Hagen was sending his own message to Vladimir Putin with Ukraine and American flags festooned on his Jeep as he drove through Kyiv and across the Maidan Square — where in 2014 massive demonstrations against corruption and Putin-subservient policies unseated former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, now in exile in Russia.

Guards at the Ukraine Defense Forces checkpoints seemed unconcerned about any security risks of the stars and stripes being displayed. “Actually the Ukrainian guards at the checkpoints thought it was great to have the American and Ukraine flags flying side-by-side,” said Fred Hagen.