Decoding the ‘Z’ — the mysterious Russian military symbol that’s been co-opted by Russia’s nationalist movement

Milos Miskov/Anadolu Agency
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A new symbol of Russia’s war against Ukraine has emerged — a white “Z” emblem, stylized in a thick brushstroke. It has found its way onto the signs and t-shirts of ultra-right, pro-Russian protesters, been painted on Russian tanks and military vehicles, and been worn as a show of support for Russia’s invasion.

In the past several weeks, the “Z” has gone from a military marking to a potent symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And there are signs that Russian nationalist groups have co-opted the mark as well.

The “Z” symbol was first spotted on February 22, emblazoned on Russian military vehicles rolling into Ukraine’s Donetsk region.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!