War Z

The letters Z and V became symbols of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the Russian Federation. At first, such markings were used only on military equipment, but later they became firmly established in the everyday life of Russians.

Until February 24, 2022, the Russian military had not used such symbols, and after the invasion, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation did not explain their meaning. That is why it is difficult to understand what meaning the occupiers put in these letters. Most likely, first, they were just signs of distinction on the equipment, which are easy and quick to write.

Subsequently, the cult of the so-called “special military operation” arose in the information space of Russia. And the cult, as you know, needs symbols. Here, the notorious Z and V played into the propagandists’ hands. For the first time, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation used these letters in its social networks on March 2, 2022, that is, a week after the start of a full-scale war. The agency published pictures with the inscriptions in Russian “Za pobiedu”(“For victory”) “Sila V pravdie”(“The strength is in the truth”), and “Zadanie budiet vypolnieno”(“The task will be completed”). The ministry produced several such posters daily, substituting the letters Z and V into ever new sayings and slogans. Such diversity only confirms that one clear meaning of these symbols simply does not exist.

Later, the symbols “went to the masses”. The Kremlin sought to unite Russians around the idea of supporting soldiers who were supposedly “repeating the feat of their ancestors, saving the world from Nazism and defending the Russian Federation.” As a result, a wave of pseudo-patriotic actions swept across Russia. Some Russians stuck Z and V on their cars, some lined up in the shape of these letters, some held rallies in squares with these symbols on flags, etc.

Here are examples of different ways of using these letters are collected below.

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