Russia & FSU

Ukraine calls on world to ban ‘Z’

Foreign minister says the letter now represents Russia’s military offensiveUkraine calls on world to ban ‘Z’

Ukraine calls on world to ban ‘Z’

A column of Russian military equipment on the highway in the vicinity of Kherson. © Sputnik

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Kuleba has urged the global community to ban a logo used by the Russian military because, from Kiev’s point of view, it represents Moscow’s ongoing military attack on the country.

“I call on all states to criminalize the use of the ‘Z’ symbol as a way to publicly support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. He added that ‘Z’ means “Russian war crimes, bombed out cities, thousands of murdered Ukrainians” and said that “public support of this barbarism must be forbidden.”

Either the letter “Z” or the letter “V” are the two symbols depicted on all vehicles of the Russian army participating in the military operation in Ukraine. In Russia, both letters have been used to support the Kremlin’s military offensive against Kiev. They are commonly used on banners and car stickers.

There are many theories about the origins of the symbol. Some commenters have suggested that “V” and “Z” represent the initials of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Other speculate that they signify the attachment of a particular vehicle to Russia’s Western or Eastern military detachments. 

Moscow’s Ministry of Defense gave its own explanation in an Instagram post in early March, however, hinting that “Z” stands for “victory” while “V” stands for “truth.”

Lithuanian deputies have also proposed criminalizing the letter “Z” along with the St. George ribbon, which is a Russian symbol to commemorate the victory in World War Two.  The legislators proposed equating both with the Nazi swastika and to punish the display of Russian symbols with a €500 fine.

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Meanwhile, according to the German newspaper Bild, the letter “Z” as a symbol of Russia’s military operation has already been banned in some regions of Germany, including Berlin, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, and North Rhine-Westphalia.

Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and Frenchbrokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the Donbass by force.


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