How the letter ‘Z’ became a pro-Russia symbol, according to experts

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 10:36 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - In late February, days before Russian forces launched an all out invasion of Ukraine and videos and photos began circulating on social media showing tanks, communications trucks and rocket launchers with the letter “Z” on them rolling toward the border.

Since then, Russians have displayed the letter “Z” on their cars on hoodies, brooches, and more. Nathan Crick, a professor of rhetoric and public affairs at Texas A&M’s Department of Communication, joined First News at Four to explain what this symbol means and how it why it has caught on.

While it may have started as a military symbol, it’s now believed to represent support of Russia in the war against Ukraine. The exact meaning of the symbol is unclear, however.

“Some of it might be that it’s simply a symbol to designate a certain unit, as opposed to another regional unit,” while others think it refers to the Russian word for victory, explained Crick.

According to Crick the symbol probably means different things to different people, and this is part of what made it catch on.

“The important point, especially when you’re thinking of propaganda, is that you have a symbol that is identifiable enough and yet broad enough that a lot of different people can invest different meanings and yet come together in support of the symbol itself,” said Crick.

People have compared the symbol to a swastika, and Crick says both have an “aggressive feel” to their appearance.

However, compared to symbols like the swastika, Crick doesn’t see “Z” living on in history as a pro-Russian symbol. The reason being the letter “Z” is too general because it’s part of the alphabet and is used by so many people.

Copyright 2022 KBTX. All rights reserved.