The Latin-script letter Z has repeatedly appeared on various vehicles since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Recently, a Russian Navy nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine with the letter Z was spotted in the port of Severomorsk.
The image of a submarine with the letter Z was widely shared on Russian social media. The submarine was identified as Borei-A class Submarine. A submarine of the Borei-A class has also been conducting patrols in the Barents Sea.
The vessel, Knyaz Vladimir (K-549), is thought to be responsible for all sightings of the letter Z on the sail. The Borei-A was spotted at the missile loading pier in Severomorsk, close to Murmansk, and possibly the submarine had Bulava missiles installed while sporting the Z symbol.
Invasion 'Z' markings added to #Russian Navy nuclear missile submarine (!!!)
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) July 25, 2022
In its typical configuration, this submarine is equipped with sixteen RSM-56 Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with a range of more than 8,000 kilometers, roughly comparable to the US Navy and the Royal Navy’s Trident.
This class of Russian submarines can deploy six to ten MIRVs (multiple independent reentry vehicles). Each one of these has a 100–150 kiloton impact force. They are, in a nutshell, one of the most potent nuclear weapons Russia has on its submarines.
The letter Z stands for Russian forces that are intruding on Ukraine from the south, primarily from Crimea, the report said. Other shapes resembled an inside-a-box O, V, and Z.
The Infamous Ukraine Invasion Symbol
Since the beginning of the invasion, Russian armed vehicles with the letter Z painted on them have been spotted driving through different parts of Ukraine. Images of the thickly painted, stylized white Z logo have been widely circulated on social media.
There have been speculations that the Z symbol on Russian military vehicles has two possible meanings: one could be “Za pobedy,” which means “victory,” and the other could be “Zapad,” which means “West.”
The Z is also intended to serve as a system by which the Russian military can identify its surrounding forces and avoid incidents like friendly fire. It’s reasonable that this was the initial purpose, but as the emblem gained popularity, it was adopted by war supporters. Later, the military’s public relations branch also decided to use it.
Therefore, this marking on an operational submarine probably serves as a declaration of support for the conflict. Uncertainty exists regarding whether it was implemented formally, with some senior sanction, or at the crew’s initiative.
President Putin and the Russian government have threatened the West with a nuclear threat, seemingly directed at NATO, which would otherwise be urged to assist Ukraine more directly.
Essentially, the nuclear deterrent is being deployed to facilitate conventional warfare. The Naval News also revealed that other submarines have not yet been spotted with the marking.
On the other hand, Oleksii Reznikov, the defense minister of Ukraine, had earlier claimed that the Z symbol resembles the Nazi mark. He further noted that mass murders occurred at a Z station close to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1943.
In addition to the infamous Z emblem, other symbols, such as “a triangle in the middle of two lines,” “a circle with three dots inside it,” and “a triangle inside a larger triangle,” have been seen painted on Russian military equipment.
According to several accounts, the Z sign was first observed on Russian combat vehicles on February 22 as they reached the Donetsk region. Other sources assert, however, that the symbol first showed up on combat vehicles in Crimea in 2014, following the peninsula’s annexation by Russia.
Later, in what appeared to be preparation for provocations in the Zaporizhia region, Russian forces defaced their military hardware by removing the letter Z and raising Ukrainian flags to evade scrutiny.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces then highlighted the symbol’s removal. Removing the symbol and raising enemy flags may be an effort at camouflage to avoid detection by Zaporizhzhia’s residents as well as inspection by Ukrainian troops and volunteer forces.
Meanwhile, a day after Kyiv and Moscow reached a historic agreement to resume grain exports, explosions shook a crucial Ukrainian port. In a post on social media, the Ukrainian military’s southern command center said two Kalibr missiles had hit the port, while two more had been shot down by air defense systems.