It is seen on Russian tanks, military vehicles and private cars: “Z” unites Putin’s supporters during the war in Ukraine. The exact meaning of the symbol is unclear, but its symbolism is all the more powerful.
It is a catchy sign, painted quickly and easily. White “Z” related to the war in Ukraine. At the beginning of the invasion, it was used to identify the Russian troops.
In the meantime, as part of the Russian war of aggression, “Z” has become a symbol of Putin – and of all those behind him.
The “Z” in this form is not a Cyrillic letter. The Cyrillic alphabet for the German “Z” looks like a three. For those who still studied them at school: like “Schnucklischrift” -Z.
What is the meaning of “Z”?
There is much speculation as to the literal meaning of “Z”. For some, “Z” means “Zapad”, the Russian word for the West, and thus the target of Putin’s aggression war. Others speculate that “Z” means Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – or Zelensky as it is spelled in English.
Caption: Every opportunity for a staging is used: Russian fighters fly in the “Z” formation during a military parade. EPA / MAXIM SHIPENKOV
Still others read “Z” as “Za Pobedu”, which in Russian means “for victory.” The symbol can also represent the number 2 instead of a letter. Ever since Putin signed the recognition of the separatist areas of Donetsk and Lugansk on 02/02/22.
“Z” stands for Putin’s support
It cannot be unequivocally determined whether one of these meanings actually applies. It also plays a minor role. “Z” has one main function: it unites Putin’s supporters and supporters in Russia and beyond.
Marcel Berni, an expert on warfare strategies at ETH Zurich, is sure: Putin and the Russian Defense Ministry have used this symbol and have successfully incorporated it into their propaganda.
Legend: At a support rally in Volgograd, several cars form the letter “Z” on the street. IMAGO / SNA
“Z” on social media
On social media, “Z” is used by Putin’s supporters outside Russia. Supporters of the war in Ukraine talk in the comments to the posts.
YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and company claim to be taking action against this content. However, analyzes of the Disinformation Situation Center, an association of several NGOs, show that only some of these posts disappear. The content will be removed, but will reappear quickly in new accounts.
descent from a saint
Meanwhile, there is also a “Z” with orange and black stripes. These are the colors of the St. George, the highest military decoration in Russia. Remarkable military achievements were honored with the orange and black of St. Jerzy already during the tsarist regime.
Caption: As a sign of support: on May 9, during the Victory Day military parade, participants held Russian flags with the symbol “Z” in orange and black stripes. IMAGO / NurPhoto
Putin used the colors of St. George when he annexed the Crimea in 2014. Now he uses its importance to stage the war as a war of liberation and class it in Russian history.