THE LETTER ‘’Z’’

THE LETTER ‘’Z’’

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March 15, 2022 - 9:16 am

A Symbol Of Russia's War In Ukraine.


    The Zs that started to appear first as large signs painted in white on Russian tanks and military vehicles as they prepared to roll into Ukraine, have since become a graphic rallying point of the invasion. Messages featuring the letter “Z” have spread widely across social media since then. Billboards have recently popped up in Russian cities featuring the letter. Stickers have appeared on cars and commercial vehicles. Russia’s state-owned RT is currently selling T-shirts on its website in apparent support of the ongoing conflict.

        As Russia’s invasion began, more military hardware was spotted emblazoned with Zs, as well as other letters, including O, X, A and V. The letters seen on the hardware were usually framed by squares, triangles, and other painted shapes. As a letter, Z does not exist in the Cyrillic Russian alphabet; rather, a letter resembling the figure 3 represents the “z” sound.

         The most popular theory used by military experts to explain the letters is that they were written according to the respective areas where the Russian troops are usually stationed, with Z potentially standing for Zapad (west). Others believe the letters were drawn in an attempt to avoid friendly fire, while some pro-Kremlin Russian military experts have speculated that the letter Z stands for the name of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the letter V for Vladimir Putin. The Russian defense ministry itself has not commented on any of the theories, and instead posted on its Instagram channel that Z meant Za pobedu (“for victory”) and V stood for “power of truth”. Although the Russian military has not yet commented on the theories doing round on social media, many believe that the symbol is used to identify Russian military vehicles and avoid friendly fire. Others speculate that the symbols are painted on vehicles to signify where the Russian forces are usually stationed. 

           Whatever it may mean, the letter Z is increasingly becoming a totalitarian symbol combining support for troops and national identity in Russia. And it's working for Kremlin. People have been spotted flashing the symbol across the country and on social media. Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak is facing disciplinary action by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) after taping the symbol to his uniform in place of the banned Russian flag at a gymnastics World Cup event in Qatar. Kuliak was standing next to Ukrainian Illia Kovtun. The FIG has since banned both Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in its events. A widely spread image shows patients and staff of a children's hospice forming the symbol in a snow-covered courtyard in Kazan, the capital and largest city of Tatarstan, a semi-autonomous republic in Russia.

            Symbols are powerful identifiers. This is especially true in war zones, where organisations such as the Red Cross have to carry out essential work. The US Army vehicles used to repulse the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait were painted with a big white chevron. Many on social media are comparing the Z with the swastika, the symbol of Hitler's Nazi Germany. Some can't miss the irony and suggest that the country which suffered Nazi Germany's onslaught is now using the same tactics. The irony gets deeper with Putin calling for “denazification” of Ukraine. 

           It's still unclear whether the recent swell of support is a coordinated attempt by the Russian government to coalesce the country behind its war-fighting efforts or an organic expression of public backing. Russia is currently facing some of the harshest sanctions levied against a country in modern history, with President Vladimir Putin equating the financial penalties to a declaration of war. Whether "Z" will continue to represent the conflict is still unknown. But for now, the symbol has become a visual representation of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Questions and Answers Questions and Answers

Question : What has spread widely across social media during Russian-Ukraine War ?
Answers : Messages featuring the letter Z
Question : What has appeared on cars and commercial vehicles?
Answers : Stickers featuring the letter Z
Question : What were the letters seen on the hardware usually framed by?
Answers : Squares, triangles, and other painted shapes
Question : What is used to identify Russian military vehicles?
Answers : Messages featuring the letter Z
Question : What are the symbols painted on to signify where the Russian forces are usually stationed?
Answers : Zs, as well as other letters, including O, X, A and V. The letters seen on the hardware were usually framed by squares, triangles, and other painted shapes.
Question : What letter is becoming a totalitarian symbol combining support for troops and national identity in Russia?
Answers : Z
Question : For what country is the letter Z working for?
Answers : Russia
Question : What is the name of the symbol used to identify Russian military vehicles?
Answers : Z
Question : Who is facing disciplinary action by the International Gymnastics Federation FIG?
Answers : Ivan Kuliak
Question : Who has the FIG banned from competing in its events?
Answers : Both Russian and Belarusian athletes
Question : Where is Kazan located?
Answers : Tatarstan
Question : What are symbols used to identify Russian military vehicles?
Answers : Zs, as well as other letters, including O, X, A and V.
Question : What organization has to carry out essential work in war zones?
Answers : Red Cross
Question : Who calls for denazification of Ukraine?
Answers : Putin
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