The military equipment of the Russian Federation, involved in the invasion of Ukraine, had marking letter «Z» on its sides, sometimes, within squares and triangles. Somewhat later, the Russian military equipment, marked with the symbols «V» or «O», was also seen on the territory of Ukraine.
British publication The Independent wrote on February 24 that, according to military experts, the marking «Z», along with other symbols, was carried to indicate where the military units were headed shortly before deployment. The Washington Post suggested that vehicles were marked in order to eliminate potential close-fire mission.
According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the meaning of the symbols is as follows:
Z — Eastern Military District of the Russian Federation
[Z] — Parts of the Russian Federation coming from the territory of the Crimea
O — Forces from Belarus
V — Marine Corps
X — Chechen formations
A — Special Forces (SOBR Spetsial’niy Otryad Bystrovo Reagirovaniya, lit. Special Unit of Quick Response), ALFA, SSO (Special Operations Forces; Sily spetsial’nykh operatsiy;)
Explanation of symbols from the Defense Ministry of the RF:
- Z — For the Victory
- V — Force V(in) Truth
- [ Another V (on the technique it is ^ ) — The task will be completed
Use of Propaganda in Russia
The letter «Z» as a symbol of support for the invasion of Ukraine began to appear in Russia on the cars and trucks, in the corporate logos and newspapers, as well as on advertising posters. Few supporters of military aggression began adding nicknames in social media, replacing Cyrillic letters, and using them for the profile pictures. The New York Times believes that this is a campaign organized by the Russian authorities to mobilize support for the war.
Refusal to use similar symbols
The use of the letters Z and V in the context of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine has led some companies and individuals who used them earlier to abandon them in order to avoid misunderstandings.
Swiss insurance company «Zurich Insurance» rejected the Z logo on social networks. The representatives of the organization explained that on one of the logos the letter is used separately from the company’s name and «can be misinterpreted». Henceforth, it is planned to monitor the situation in the world to avoid undesirable connotations when using this logo.
In Riga, the twin towers Z-Towers changed their name to Zunda Towers so that there would be no association, as claimed, «with the symbol of military propaganda».