Dozens of Russian tanks and other military vehicles that entered eastern Ukraine this week appeared with a mysterious white “Z” painted on their sides, causing speculation on social media about the symbol’s meaning.
Videos and still images of the vehicles show the character either alone or surrounded by a white triangle, square, or circle. Other symbols – such as the white triangle with two lines on either side, red triangles, white circles, white triangles, and white dashes – have also been spotted on some vehicles.
The signs are not limited to tanks only, but were also seen on trucks and amphibious excavators.
Most observers point out that the signs identify the references to fellow Russian forces in order To avoid becoming a victim of friendly fire. Others speculated that the tags could identify which company the vehicles are a part of or where they’re supposed to head in the event of an invasion.
These signals are not out of the norm for vehicles used in combat. During World War II, the United States Army Similar tags are used On armored vehicles and jeeps for identification purposes.
“Many videos of Russian military vehicles are loaded with ‘Z’ tags. Our assessment is the ‘friend or foe’ identification tags used by militaries during the war,” the Ukraine War Report, a Twitter account that has been monitoring the Russian troop surge, posted, According to the British newspaper Telegraph Newspaper. The account has since been suspended from the social networking site.
Saturday Ph.D. Student and observer of Russian defense policy Rob Lee, who drew attention to several distinctive vehicles around the Ukrainian border, forecast Symbols are used to “identify different work teams or levels”.
Lee later pointed to a post from a popular Russian Telegram channel that claimed what the banners meant.
The source said what the tactical signals on Russian military equipment mean: the direction of Kharkiv g [Triangle] Slaviansk, Kramatorsk [Circle] Mobile Backup”, translated version of the post Read.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, lies only 20 miles from Russia’s border while Slaviansk and Kramatorsk lie outside the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, which are controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
It was not confirmed that the signs indicated the direction of the vehicles.
Another possibility, as Lee noted, is that the potential differences refer to “different business teams”.
“Most of the ‘Z’ marks seen so far have been inside a square, but this Ural truck with the Msta-B howitzer has one inside a triangle. It probably indicates different working teams within a larger formation or level. This is in Valuyki,” he chirpreferring to a Russian city just 16 miles from the Ukrainian border.
If Russia goes ahead with a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Her forces are expected to advance west from breakaway regions as well as south from Belarus, where Moscow has recently expanded joint military exercises.
Marks are also not limited to Russian regulars.
On Tuesday, Lee shared photos of what he claimed were “Rosgvardia Forces” – Russia’s National Guard – and “Avtozaks (prisoner transport trucks).”
“This is a giant red flag. These are Rosgvardia soldiers and Avtozaks (prisoner transport trucks) marked ‘Z’ in Belgorod. A strong indication that Rosgvardia forces will take part in any invasion.” chirp.
Despite the speculation, other investigative organizations are confused about the exact meaning of the signs.
“A lot of people ask us about this ‘Zorro squad’, but I don’t know why they painted this giant Z on the vehicles. Some think this is a sign for their own planes, so that their planes don’t get bombed. But we see a lot of vehicular traffic every day and this Z is very rare, Ruslan Leviev of the Conflict Intelligence Team chirp last weekend.
Not long after, Belinkat reporter Eric Toler clearer That Ruslan has been researching these types of signs for eight years.
“Reply: ‘Zorro Squad,’ or all Russian military vehicles which (as of today) are painted in Latin Z on their sides,” Toller wrote. “Ruslan has been observing these things nonstop for 8 years and has no idea what they are, and has never seen them before. So suppose the worst, I think/Fear.”
Western officials estimate that Russia has amassed between 150,000 and 190,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, and many in the West fear an attack at any time.
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