Ukraine: Meaning Behind The Z On Russian Tanks Explained
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As military vehicles are seen travelling from Russia into Ukraine, experts have revealed the meaning behind certain markings seen on them.
Various symbols have been spotted on Russian vehicles since Vladimir Putin sent forces across the border into Ukraine on Thursday, February 24.
From a triangle with two lines on either side, a circle with three dots inside, a large triangle with a smaller one inside, and the letter 'Z' inside a square, experts have since come up with multiple theories as to what the 10 different types of drawing that have so far been spotted might mean.
Russia began marking its vehicles near Ukrainian borders with tactical markings. pic.twitter.com/jz67r3V0t1— Military-Today.com (@com_military) February 19, 2022
Former director of the defence think tank RUSI, Professor Michael Clarke, thinks the markings on the vehicles act as an indicator of which geographical location they are headed to within Ukraine, Sky News reports.
He said: 'Often these symbols will be location based – they will be communicating where a unit is heading. 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.'
This is interesting. Looks like communication trucks South of Belgorod followed by a series of civilian vehicles that also have Z painted on the side of the Russian war operation. Also, the white vans have no license plates. #CNN #Russia #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/aTMZfIyxiw— Frederik Pleitgen (@fpleitgenCNN) February 26, 2022
Vehicles with the letter 'Z' inside a square box have been caught on camera near Belgorod in Russia. Belgorod is less than 20 miles from the Ukrainian border and 45 miles from Kharkiv, the country's second largest city, located in the northeast, which was entered by Russian troops overnight yesterday, February 26.
According to the city's governor, Oleh Synyehubov, Ukrainian forces have since regained control, BBC News reports. 'The armed forces, the police, and the defence forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy,' he stated in a post on Telegram.
However, despite Synyehubov's statement, it remains unclear as to which side is more in control of the city, as fighting continues on the streets and the situation remains ever-changing.
A missile is also understood to have hit a pipeline in the early hours of this morning, February 27, Sky News reports.
Ukraine's border guard is sharing images of Russian units surging from occupied Crimea into Kherson oblast. Note the trucks with white slashes; there'd been speculation that Russia was using markings to denote task forces. All the ones near Belgorod had Zs on them. pic.twitter.com/5amCtaViIt— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) February 24, 2022
Variations of the 'Z' symbol have also been spotted, with the letter having been drawn inside a triangle, as opposed to a square.
A triangle symbol with two lines at its peak and either side was also caught on camera on February 22, having been painted on the side of a tank as well as the top, presumably so that the vehicle could be identified by helicopters and planes.
Observed Russian vehicle markings corresponded to rough incursion areas. I'm sure this is not comprehensive and I am not claiming this is accurate but this is what I've seen so far. #Ukraine #Russia #Z #V #O pic.twitter.com/xAO1pwnvtP— Paul Mauser (@PaulMauser1898) February 26, 2022
Alongside Clarke's theory, it is thought these markings could be being used by Russian military to identify which vehicles are theirs, as symbols for certain goals, or to mark out different assault groups.
Professor Clarke explained how markings have been similarly used by the US while in Iraq to differentiate companies.
However, he explained that in order for the markings to not be copied by the opposition they are usually only placed onto vehicles right before fighting is about to commence.
'Vladimir Putin is invading Ukraine in a multi-pronged attack.'— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 24, 2022
Professor Michael Clarke explains how Russia invaded Ukraine, and says there have been "over 200 attacks" today, according to the Ukrainian national police service.
Live updates: https://t.co/V4HcYTb5wD pic.twitter.com/9cvgqNdbJ9
While the symbols' meaning has yet to be confirmed, Professor Clarke noted that markings are a common feature used by forces within war.
The US and UK military intelligence are currently reported as making efforts to decipher them.
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Topics: News, Russia, Ukraine, World News