What does the Z mean on Russian tanks? The mysterious symbol explained
Why do Russian tanks have a mysterious 'Z' symbol on them?
Why do Russian tanks have a mysterious 'Z' symbol on them?

Mysterious symbols were painted on tanks ahead of Russia's attack on Ukraine – sparking several chilling theories as to why they are there.

Experts have suggested that such markings are generally painted on vehicles before combat to avoid the opposition imitating the symbols. There have since been variations of the symbols, with 'Z' inside a triangle.

Professor Michael Clarke, former director of the defence think tank RUSI, told the outlet: "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."

Russian defence policy expert, Rob Lee, agreed on Twitter. “It appears Russian forces near the border are painting markers," he tweeted, "In this case ‘Z’, on vehicles to identify different task forces or echelons.”

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A military source based in Kiev reportedly told The Sun: “It’s vital that any attacking force can be distinguished, particularly from the air where Russian forces will have complete control.

“The Ukrainians have very similar tanks and vehicles and will want to reduce the risk of friendly fire.”

Another theory by David Kime, a former soldier, police officer and field intelligence officer, also garnered much attention. He suggested the 'Z' stands for the "point of no return."

Others, however, have also suggested the 'Z' symbolises victory.

"Some interpret "Z" as "Za pobedy" (for victory). Others - as "Zapad" (West)," a scholar said on Twitter. "This symbol invented just a few days ago became a symbol of new Russian ideology and national identity."

While there are many theories circulating online, there has been no conclusive evidence of what the ‘Z’ means.

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