Russian tanks with mysterious ‘Z’ marking enter Ukraine

0
37
Russian tanks with mysterious 'Z' marking enter Ukraine

Dozens of Russian tanks and other military vehicles entering eastern Ukraine this week have sported a mysterious white “Z” marking painted on their sides, causing speculation on social media about what the symbol could mean.

Videos and still images of the vehicles show the letter either by itself or enclosed by a white triangle, square or circle. Other symbols — such as a white triangle with two lines on either side, red triangles, white circles, white triangles and white slashes — have also been spotted on some of the vehicles.

The markings are not just limited to tanks, but have also been seen on trucks and amphibious rigs.

Most observers suggest the markings are identifying signals to fellow Russian troops in order to avoid being victimized by friendly fire. Others have speculated that the markings could identify what company the vehicles are a part of or where they are supposed to be headed in the event of an invasion.

Such signals are not out of the norm for vehicles used in combat. During World War II, the United States military employed similar markings on armored vehicles and jeeps for identification purposes. 

Russian troops spotted a few kilometers from the border with Ukraine, Kursk region.
Many vehicles have been seen with a “Z” either alone or enclosed by a white triangle, square or circle.
Social media / east2west news
Russian troops on the move by the border with Ukraine
Russian troops on the move by the border with Ukraine with a mysterious Z on their vehicles.
social media/e2w

“Numerous videos are being uploaded of Russian military vehicles with ‘Z’ markings. Our assessment is it’s ‘friend or foe’ identification markings used by armies during wartime,” posted Ukraine War Report, a Twitter account that has been monitoring the Russian troop buildup, according to the UK’s Telegraph newspaper. The account has since been suspended from the social media site. 


Get the latest updates in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with the New York Post’s live coverage.


On Saturday, Ph.D. student and Russian defense policy observer Rob Lee, who has called attention to many of the marked vehicles around the Ukrainian border, speculated that the symbols are used to “identify different task forces or echelons.”

Lee later pointed to a post from a popular Russian Telegram channel that alleged what the signs meant.

Russian troops on the move by the border with Ukraine.
The US used similar markings during World War II for identification purposes.
social media/e2w
Russian military vehicles with a "Z" on the side of the vehicle.
Some speculate that the markings are used to avoid friendly fire.
Social media / east2west news

“The source said what the tactical signs on Russian military equipment mean: Z – Kharkiv direction [Triangle] Slavyansk, Kramatorsk [Circle] mobile reserve,” a translated version of the post read

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is located just over 20 miles from the border of Russia while Slavyansk and Kramatorsk are located just outside the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, which are controlled by pro-Russian separatists. 

It has not been confirmed that the markings signify where the vehicles are headed. 

Another possibility, Lee has noted, is that the possible variations indicate “different task forces.”

“Most of the ‘Z’ markings seen thus far have been inside a square, but this Ural truck with a Msta-B howitzer has one inside a triangle. Possibly indicating different task forces within a larger formation or echelon. This is in Valuyki,” he tweeted, referring to a Russian city just 16 miles from the Ukrainian border.

If Russia does move forward with a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, its forces are expected to push west from the separatist regions as well as south from Belarus, where Moscow recently extended joint military exercises.

The markings are not limited to Russian regulars, either. 

On Tuesday, Lee shared images of what he claimed were “Rosgvardia troops” — Russia’s national guard — and “Avtozaks (prisoner transport trucks).”

Russian RosGvardia troops seen with Z sign in Belgorod region.
Some have identified certain vehicles as Russian Rosgvardia troops and Avtozaks, which are prisoner transport vehicles.
social media/e2w

“This is a giant red flag. These are Rosgvardia troops and Avtozaks (prisoner transport trucks) with the ‘Z’ markings in Belgorod. A strong indication that Rosgvardia troops would take part in any invasion,” Lee tweeted.

Despite the speculation, other investigative organizations are stumped as to the precise meaning of the markings.

“Many people ask us about this ‘Zorro squad,’ but I don’t know why they draw this giant Z on vehicles. Some believe that this is a sign for their own aircraft, so that their own would not be bombed. But we see a lot of movement of vehicles every day and this Z is very rare,” Ruslan Leviev of the Conflict Intelligence Team tweeted last weekend. 

Not long after, Bellingcat reporter Aric Toler clarified that Ruslan has been looking into these types of markings for eight years. 

“Re: the ‘Zorro Squad’, or all the Russian military vehicles that (starting today) have Latin Z’s painted on their sides,” Toler posted. “Ruslan has been monitoring this stuff nonstop for 8 years and has no idea what they are, and hasn’t seen it before. So, assume the worst, I guess/fear.”

Western officials estimate that Russia has massed between 150,000 and 190,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and many in the West fear an attack at any time.

Source link