The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been accompanied by the symbol ‘Z’ — a letter that otherwise does not exist in the Cyrillic Russian alphabet. However, the letter that has become a symbol of Russia’s military operations is suddenly being erased by the invading troops.
Russian forces are removing the letter Z from their military hardware and erecting Ukrainian flags in apparent preparation for provocations in the Zaporizhia region, Ukrainian media portal Ukrinform reported. The removal of the symbol was highlighted by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Facebook.
The erasure of the symbol, and erecting of enemy flags may be an attempt at camouflaging to prevent being recognized by the civilians of Zaporizhzhia and avert scrutiny by the Ukrainian troops and volunteer forces.
Earlier, Oleh Buryak, the head of the Zaporizhzhia district state administration, had stated that his son was kidnapped at a Russian Checkpoint. The Russians have intensified their operations in the Eastern Ukraine region that they aim to wrest away from Ukraine.
The settlement of Novodanylivka in the Polohy area of the Zaporizhia region was earlier being bombarded with phosphorus bombs by Russian troops. The Ukrainian media had reported that the Russian troops were threatening military and civilian infrastructure across the Zaporizhia region with missile weapons.
It was then being speculated that the Russian occupiers could attempt to march toward the city of Zaporizhia.
Further, the people from embattled Mariupol were being evacuated to the Zaporizhzhia district until a few days ago. However, given the reports trickling in from the region, a full-scale assault on the district seems imminent as Russia tries to surround the entire region.
“In the area of the settlement of Vasylivka, Zaporizhia region, it was noted that the enemy is possibly plotting provocations as the Russians were seen erasing the letter Z from military equipment, setting up Ukrainian flags”, said the report.
It is pertinent to mention that there have been instances where troops on either side have been unable to distinguish hostile equipment, such as tanks from their own, resulting in destructive attacks on their military.
The Rise Of The ‘Z’ Symbol
Russian armed vehicles with the letter ‘Z’ painted on them have been seen roaming around Kyiv and other cities ever since the invasion was launched. Images of the white ‘Z’ emblem, stylized in thick brushstrokes, have been widely shared on social media. Many demonstrators, particularly those who support Russia, have also worn the logo on their T-shirts.
The ‘Z’ insignia on Russian military vehicles has been speculated to have two meanings: one possible meaning could be ‘Za pobedy,’ which means ‘victory,’ and the other could be ‘Zapad,’ which means ‘west.’
The “Z” is also supposed to be a mechanism for Russia’s military to recognize its neighboring, forces, preventing occurrences like friendly fire.
It’s possible that this was the original intent, but as the emblem became more widely recognized and adopted by war supporters, the military’s public relations arm decided to join in.
Petro and Tamara Lysenko were one of many to have their house looted. The Russians ate all their food, killed a piglet and several chickens, stole the washing machine, all of Petro’s clothes and a computer, smashed up the three family cars and daubed Z symbol on the fridge. pic.twitter.com/S4eJJDZk2w
— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) April 9, 2022
Other posts of the Russian Defense ministry include words like “for peace” and “for truth,” all of which start with the same Russian sound while some others put a “z” amid the words “demilitarization” and “denazification,” the latter being one of the justifications provided by Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, said Sky News.
The ‘Z’ emblem was first noticed on Russian combat vehicles on February 22, according to several accounts, as they entered the Donetsk region. However, some other sources say that the emblem first appeared on combat vehicles in Crimea in 2014, after the peninsula was taken by Russia.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov had earlier said that the ‘Z’ emblem bears a resemblance to the Nazi mark. He also mentioned that there was a ‘Z’ station near the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1943, where people were mass-murdered.
According to some accounts, the symbols are used to indicate the origins of the forces; for example, the “Z” represents forces from Russia’s eastern region, while the “Z” inside a square seen on other Russian vehicles denotes forces from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Apart from the infamous ‘Z’ insignia, there are other symbols that have been spotted on Russian equipment including – ‘A triangle in the middle of two lines’, ‘A circle with three dots inside it, and a triangle inside a larger triangle’.
The Ukrainian troops have been able to capture several Russian tanks, images of which have been shared far and wide on social media. Therefore, spotting Russian tanks with Ukrainian flags has become a regular sight in the streets of Ukraine- a symbol of pride for the resisting military. It would thus become easier for the Russian troops to maneuver with a more visible Ukrainian identity.
The Russian assault against Ukraine has intensified in recent days following the Ukrainian attack on the former’s flagship cruiser ‘Moskva’ in the Black sea. With a renewed thrust in the Eastern region, the conflict is far from over.
As tensions intensify and more allegations of war crimes are leveled at Moscow, the negotiations taking place between the two sides could soon fall apart.