Russia’s ‘Z’ war symbol meaning Explained as Experts call viral symbol ‘Putin’s Swastika’

“Z” is fast becoming a symbol of President Putin’s Ukrainian invasion in Russia. Russian military vehicles with a “Z” marking painted on their sides, are moving around Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. It appears Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a leaf out of Adolf Hitler’s book and introduced his own Swastika during the Ukrainian invasion of Russia.

Russia’s new war symbol “Z”

The symbol ‘Z’ was originally applied to Russian equipment. However, today it appears everywhere as Vladimir Putin rallies support for his war by emulating Adolf Hitler. The “Z” is fast becoming synonymous with President Putin’s war invading Ukraine in Russia. Politician have worn them, and it has appeared on vehicles, vans and hoardings in addition to appearing on bus shelters. The Serbians even used it in a pro-Russian demonstration in Belgrade.

Aglaya Snetkova, lecturer in international politics at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies at UCL, says the conversation has entered the realm of social media. Images of the white emblem are all over social media, stylized in a thick brushstroke. The protestors, particularly those who support Russia often find these t-shirts. Now that the Ukraine war has begun 13 days ago, many tanks and Russian military vehicles are moving around in Ukrainian cities, their sides marked with the letter “Z”. Ivan Kuliak, the Russian gymnast who won the Gymnastics World Cup in Doha, Qatar, even wore the letter on a t-shirt during the Gymnastics World Cup.

Nazism adopted the Swastika as a symbol of good luck from its traditional Indian origins during the 1930s and 1940s. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has introduced his own symbol for war, similar to Adolf Hitler’s Z. Just as the letter Q has become synonymous with QAnon and dominates far-right rallies across the globe, it appears the letter Z has become synonymous with Russia’s war. The letter first appeared on Russian tanks and equipment during the Ukraine invasion, but has since spread not just to Ukraine, but across the world as well.

What does the “Z” mean?

Initially, everyone thought that the symbol was just an insignia so that Russian troops wouldn’t fire on their own. They claimed it represented Zelenskyy, the war’s target, and others stated it symbolized the Russian forces’ inability to turn back.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the symbol represents “za pobedu” (“for victory” in Russian). However, some have interpreted it as representing “Zapad” (West in Russian). The letter, which does not exist in the Russian alphabet, appears that it is being used for a more sinister purpose. Only a month ago, it did not even exist. Now it is the symbol for Putin and his supporters all over Russia.

Putin’s Swastika

In a similar way to how Hitler used the Swastika as a calling card for the Nazis, Putin seems to be rallying Russian support for the war in Ukraine through the symbol. While Russia launched its offensive, social media and experts began comparing the Swastika and Z. Many people have nicknamed The Z as “Putin’s Swastika”. Many are referring to the symbol as “the new Swastika”. On the internet, many are echoing that view, claiming Putin is “trying to create a new fascist empire”. As in the 1930s and 1940s, the Swastika was a sign of terror, so it seems Z is in 2022.

The Russian Ministry of Defense uses the letter “V” in its official Instagram account, alongside images of “Zs”. Several captions are written on the side of the picture: “Za PatsanoV,” which means “for the lads”. “Sila V pravde,” which means “strength in truth.”

Kyiv immediately criticized Russia’s announcement of new “humanitarian corridors” for transporting Ukrainians trapped under its bombardment. Russia demanded evacuation routes leading into Russian or Belarusian territory, Ukraine warned French President Emmanuel Macron and other western leaders. Almost 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country thirteen days ago. UN revealed that the ongoing situation is Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Riddha Kundu

I’m Riddha Kundu, a 23-year-old aspiring Chartered Accountant from Kolkata, and I’m passionate about writing contents.

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