President Vladimir Putin shocked the globe this week as Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. This has seen them entering Chernobyl, with radiation spiking in the region. As the world looks on, some have noticed that Russian military vehicles have been marked with Z symbols.
According to Sky News, painted symbols like these are usually applied to vehicles soon to engage in combat, meaning the Z symbols could be indicative of the Russian military’s plans. Reports have pointed out roughly 10 different types of symbol – some just a plain Z, while others are in boxes or triangles.
Videos shared on Twitter have shown entire convoys of vehicles carrying the Z symbols.
“This is a giant red flag,” alleged PhD student with a focus on Russian defense policy Rob Lee on Twitter. “These are Rosgvardia troops and Avtozaks (prisoner transport trucks) with the 'Z' markings in Belgorod. A strong indication that Rosgvardia troops would take part in any invasion.”
The Russian National Guard, or Rosgvardia, are separate from the Russian Armed Forces, as a group which answers only to President Putin, says Telegraph, who earlier this week reported the guard could be responsible for regaining control in land grabbed in the invasion.
As to the symbols’ meanings, it’s been speculated that they could serve as a way of avoiding friendly fire by making it easier for Russian soldiers to identify Russian vehicles, or as a means of communicating the strategic means of attack for that vehicle.
"Often these symbols will be location based - they will be communicating where a unit is heading,” Professor Michael Clarke, former director of the defence think tank RUSI, told Sky News. “If they were only to mark the vehicles as being Russian, you could just use one symbol.”
"The fact that they are different tells you more – they are probably signs which tell you which units are heading to the northeast or northwest of a district, for example."
However, no firm conclusions have yet been drawn and more information is needed to reach an understanding of these symbols' true meaning.
[H/T: Indy 100]