Why Has Letter “Z” Become a Symbol of Support for Russian Aggression?

"Z The 2022 Russian swastika" by Mike Finn

As Russia continues its aggressions on Ukraine, a new symbol has started to spread across Russian social media, showing the letter “Z” plastered on Russian buildings, clothes, and billboards.

Open source analysts and military experts previously spotted the letter seemingly hand-painted on Russian military trucks and tanks. This was massed on the Ukrainian border, leading to speculation among experts as to what the symbol represents.

A popular theory by military experts explained the letter potentially stood for Zapad (west), indicating the location of where the Russian troops were meant to be stationed.

Trending in Russia

Others believe the letter was an attempt at avoiding friendly fire.

However, as some pro-Russian military experts have stated, the letter Z stands for the name of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, symbolizing Russia’s efforts to replace him.

“War in Ukraine” by ivbogdan.com

The Russian defense ministry disproved these theories with an Instagram post, stating the letter Z meant “Za Pobeda” (for victory).

Over the past two weeks, the letter Z had been gaining more and more traction, eventually becoming the main symbol of public support for Russia’s aggression on Ukraine.

Only three days after the invasion, Russian state network RT made posts on social media advertising merchandise with the Z symbol on it. This included T-shirts and hoodies, among other things, to show support for Russian troops in Ukraine.

Since then, Russian social media accounts that supported the invasion started to include the letter in their names or logos.

There are entire Telegram channels dedicated to helping Russians collect information on Ukrainian military activity plastering the letter as their forefront.

Pure Fascist-like Propaganda

The letter has gone beyond social media though; an image surfaced of terminally ill children standing in a Z formation from a Russian children’s hospice in the southern city of Kazan.

This was their support for the invasion of Ukraine. Russian officials have also been eager to show their support for the war, such as Sergei Tsivilev, the head of the Kemerovo region in Russia.

He has pledged to rename the region to Kuzbass, with other officials also promising name changes in the future.

The symbol also had exposure outside of Russia, with Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak sporting the insignia as he stood next to Ukrainian gold medalist Kovtun Illia at a gymnastics World Cup competition in Qatar.

Anti-war organizations have compared the flaunting of the letter to Nazi Germany’s obsession with the swastika, stating it is becoming more and more clear Russia and Putin are running a fascist regime.