If you’ve been following what has occurred in Ukraine following the invasion of Russian troops under President Vladimir Putin’s command, you may have also noticed the letter “Z” in recent photos.
What the Letter “Z” Mean In Respect to the Ongoing War Between Ukraine and Russia
As CNN reports, some of the first “Z”s were spotted on the sides of Russian tanks that were waiting at the Ukraine border. Now, we are learning what the “Z” likely stands for.
According to CNN, military experts believe the “Z” should be interpreted as “Za pobedy” or “Zapad,” which in Russian mean “for victory” or “ West,” respectively. People believe the “Z” has become a pro-war symbol.
Experts in Russia’s hostility toward Ukraine over the years, like Aric Toler, say they have never seen the “Z” before. At the time, Toler wrote on Twitter that people should “assume the worst” when it comes to the meaning of the symbol.
However, as the days draw on, it has become more and more clear that the “Z” is now a symbol for the new nationalist movement and those who support Putin’s tyranny. According to CNN, some Russians, have painted the “Z” on their cars, sported hoodies with the letter on them, and makeshift lapels.
Most notably, Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak wore the “Z” symbol on his leotard during a competition in which he was standing next to a Ukrainian gymnast. Kuliak has since been heavily criticized for his shocking behavior.
In a tweet shared by Kamil Galeev, an independent researcher and former fellow at the Wilson Center, a non-partisan policy think tank in Washington, DC, he explained how the “Z” symbol quickly gained popularity, CNN reports.
“Let’s discuss what’s happening in Russia. To put it simply, it’s going full fascist. Authorities launched a propaganda campaign to gain popular support for their invasion of Ukraine and they’re getting lots of it.”
Galeev included a screenshot of a group of supporters wearing “Z” printed shirts along with the hashtag that reads, “we don’t abandon our own (guys).” In the screengrabbed video, the people were heard chanting, “For Russia, for the president. For Russia, for Putin,” CNN reported.
These new propaganda tactics are just the latest steps in Russia’s campaign to shield the opinions of the rest of the world and those who do not support the war. Putin has also recently signed a law that could result in 15 years in prison for those who speak negatively of his violent efforts.
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