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War in Ukraine: What’s behind Russia’s ‘Z’ symbol?

War in Ukraine: how 'Z' became a symbol of support for Russian forces

Ground Report | New Delhi: Z symbol Russia; Since February 24 and the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is a letter that has appeared here and there in the theatre of military operations. Many observers have seen this “Z” painted in white paint on Russian tanks entering Ukraine without being able to determine its exact meaning.

The ‘Z’, which does not exist in the Cyrillic alphabet, has appeared on buildings and public places, carried by soldiers on their tanks and also by athlete Ivan Kuliak at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Doha.

The gymnast, who achieved bronze, collected the medal and on his clothing, he carried the letter ‘Z’. His opponent, the Ukrainian Illia Kovtun took the gold. And what does the letter ‘Z’ mean, used to support the Russians in the Ukraine war? There are several theories about it.

However, it is not uncommon to see these types of markings on military equipment to help distinguish it. For example, the US Army painted chevrons (heraldry symbols in the shape of a compass) on their tanks during the invasion of Iraq. This was one of the first attempts to explain the meaning of the letter “Z”. 

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A resident of Donetsk, a pro-Russian separatist city in eastern Ukraine, posted on her Instagram a photo of her fingernails painted with a white “Z” on a black background. In Barnul (south-central Russia) they unfurled a huge “Z” in the snow, with the colours of the Saint George ribbon, orange and red, a Russian military symbol. 

There are also those who smelled the commercial opportunity and T-shirts with the “Z” are already being sold online.  On the other hand, opponents of military intervention have a harder time displaying their symbols in public space, even when there are small demonstrations every day (despite being prohibited). The walls of Moscow appear from time to time covered with messages of peace, but it does not take long for them to be erased.   (Z symbol Russia)

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The “Z”, which now appears massively in public spaces, has thus become a symbol of loyalty and fidelity to the Kremlin. From politicians to celebrities, passing through some influencers, everyone wants to show off using the “Z”. In a Russian society where freedom of speech and the press is increasingly restricted, who knows if not wearing this symbol will soon be seen as a sign of disloyalty to the Vladimir Putin regime.

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