The Flag of Russia: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: December 15, 2022
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Russia is a large nation that encompasses most of Northern Asia and Eastern Europe. Following the Soviet Union’s collapse in December 1991, Russia, once the leading republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R., sometimes known as the Soviet Union), gained independence. Superlatives abound in Russia. It has a territory that is about twice the size of Canada.  Russia’s population is very diversified. There are more than 120 additional ethnic groups there, speaking various languages, and adhering to various cultural and religious traditions. However, the majority are ethnic Russians.

The National Flag of Russia, also known as the State Flag of the Russian Federation, is a significant emblem of Russia. It is a straightforward, equally proportioned three-color flag with white on top, blue in the center, and red on bottom. Despite having a simple design, it has significant historical significance for Russia and its people. In this article, we are going to explore the history, meaning, and symbolism of the flag of Russia!

Flag of Russia History

flag of Russia

The Russian flag has a long history and has undergone a few changes. The current design is a simple white, blue and red horizontally striped flag.

©Negro Elkha/

The flag’s first use was as an ensign for Russian commerce ships in 1696. The first official Russian Empire flag was a tricolor flag with three horizontal sections: black on the top, yellow in the center, and white on the bottom. It was declared by Alexander II in 1858, and it remained in use until that time. The white, blue, and red tricolor were once again designated as the Russian Empire’s official flag by an order dated 1896.

The Russian SFSR chose a new flag in 1991 after the August Coup when the Soviet Union began to fall apart. It was symbolic of the pre-revolutionary tricolor that had been made illegal in 1917. In a resolution dated August 22, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR recognized the historic imperial tricolor flag to be the nation’s flag. This was in response to the aftermath of the failed coup in Moscow.

On November 1, 1991, Law No. 1827-1 was passed, and it subsequently changed the constitution. The current tricolor flag was raised in the Kremlin on December 25, 1991, the day the USSR began to disintegrate. The new flag had a 1:2 ratio and was composed of three colors: white at the top, blue at the center, and red at the bottom.

The traditional Russian tricolor was completely restored during the constitutional crisis in Russia. It is currently flown as the country’s flag today. The modern-era Russian flag underwent a proportion change in 1993. It went from 1:2 to 2:3 and has been most recently provided for by a 2000 law.

Variant Versions of the Flag of Russia

Before World War I, Tsar Nicholas II approved a different version of the flag for personal use, putting the huge state eagle on a yellow background (imperial standard) in the center. The double-headed eagle from the coat of arms appears in the middle of the flag, and the golden lettering РОCСИЯ for “Russia” appears at the bottom. The final Romanov tsar or emperor of Russia was Nicholas II. He was deposed and put to death as a result of his management of Bloody Sunday and Russia’s involvement in World War I. This version of the flag has never been flown as the state flag of any jurisdiction.

The Presidential Standard

The Presidential Standard of the flag is a square tricolor that has the Russian coat of arms (a double-headed eagle is shown without a shield) in the center. It was first introduced on February 15, 1994, by Presidential Decree No. 319.

Flag of Russia Meaning

flag of Russia

The flag of Russia represents many things, including peace, purity, and bravery.



The current flag of Russia has a design that consists of 3 stripes: a white, blue, then red horizontal stripe. All 3 stripes are of equal proportion.


The Russian Federation’s federal constitution only specifies the flag’s primary colors as “white,” “blue,” and “red.” The official shades that should be used for the Russian Federation’s national flag are not specified by Federal Constitutional Law.

Flag of Russia Symbolism

There are many interpretations of the symbolism of the flag of Russia. Alexander III of Russia had his own explanation of the colors of the flag. He believed that white stands for nobility and candidness, blue for consistency, integrity, infallibility, and purity, and red stands for bravery, charity, and love. According to a common unofficial explanation by many throughout its history, red represents Great Russia, white represents White Russia, and blue represents Little Russia. Another modern-day take is that white stands for independence and freedom, blue is for the Virgin Mary watching over Russia, and Red stands for power.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © pudiq/

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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  3. Gettysburg Flag Works, Available here: