Russian Army vehicles entering Ukraine were seen sporting the alphabet ‘Z’, which has given rise to several speculations about the meaning of the symbol.
Social media is abuzz with pictures of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles sporting ‘Z’ mark on its sides.
The markings are not just limited to tanks, but have also been seen on trucks and amphibious rigs.
There is no single theory to explain what ‘Z’ means, mainly because the Russian military has not issued any clarification behind the use of the alphabet. However, Russian analyst Kamil Galeev suggests “Z” could be interpreted as “Za pobedy” (for victory). Others see it as “Zapad” (West).
“This symbol invented just a few days ago became a symbol of new Russian ideology and national identity,” Galeev said on Twitter.
Some others say the symbol could be a signal for fellow Russians to identify their own vehicles in the warzone and avoid friendly fire.
Another theory says the markings are a way to identify the company the vehicles belong to or where they are supposed to be headed for during the war.
Professor Michael Clarke, former director of the defence think tank Rusi, told Sky News: “Often these symbols will be location based – they will be communicating where a unit is heading. If they were only to mark the vehicles as being Russian, you could just use one symbol. Such signals are not out of the norm for vehicles used in combat.”
Besides, some Russian armoured vehicles have been seen spray-painted with a large white ‘V’ symbol — thought by analysts to indicate origins from Russia’s east, or Vostok East Forces.
Some say the symbol could be a way to delineate infantries.
‘Z’ marking on the sides of Russian war vehicles has become a way of expressing support for Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Saturday, Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak stirred a controversy by wearing a ‘Z’ symbol on his sports vest. Kuliak now faces “disciplinary proceedings” from the International Gymnastics Federation, which does not allow political symbols at sporting events.