The mysterious letter Z painted on Russian tanks and armored cars could mean a “point of no return”, experts say.
Several theories about the symbol’s meaning have been floated after Vladimir Putin’s invasion force was filmed heading towards Ukraine.
The footage shows tanks, self-propelled artillery mounts, mobile rocket launchers and supply trucks moving between six and 25 miles from the border with Ukraine.
They were all marked with the same white Z inside a square rectangle.
Military sources warned that this showed that the army was ready for a full-scale attack.
The symbols reflect British and US tactics in the First Gulf War, when troops sent to liberate Kuwait marked vehicles with an inverted chevron.
A source in Kiev told The Sun over the weekend: “This means that the final preparations have been completed.
“It is vital that any attacking force can be distinguished, especially from the air, where Russian forces will have complete control.
“Ukrainians have very similar tanks and vehicles and will want to reduce the risk of friendly fire.”
Other sources have added more clues to the meaning of the sinister Z marking.
Investigative journalist Arik Toler said his organization Bellingcat has been “tracking all of this non-stop for eight years.”
He said the band “has no idea what it is and haven’t seen it before”.
He agreed that this meant an invasion, adding, “So, let’s assume the worst, I think/fear.”
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Russia analyst Rob Lee has a different theory. He believes that the symbols may refer to the contingents of the invasion forces assigned to the regions of Ukraine.
“It looks like Russian forces near the border are painting markers, in this case a ‘Z’, on vehicles to represent different task forces or echelons,” he tweeted.
Others online have suggested that it means “Zorro Squad” referring to the entire invasion force, or the secret name for the new unit.
Adding to the puzzle is the fact that Z is a letter of the Latin alphabet, not the Cyrillic alphabet used in Russia and Ukraine.
Former field intelligence officer David Kime said the Z could stand for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
He said on Twitter that he was tipped off by mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a brutal paramilitary organization used by Putin for covert operations abroad.
Kime added that some military sources believe the Z stands for “point of no return.”
Latest news about the crisis in Ukraine…
The Z symbols were removed two days before Putin ordered tanks and 10,000 troops into eastern Ukraine on Tuesday morning.
The tanks seen by a Reuters journalist passing through one of the rebel-held towns were unmarked.
Russia says troops and heavy equipment are on a “peacekeeping” mission following controversial claims that Russian speakers have been targeted.
Kiev says Kremlin-backed rebels in separatist Luhansk and Donetsk regions blew up their own targets in false flag attacks to give Russia an excuse to invade.
NATO fears that Russian tanks will not stop in territory already held by the rebels and continue to occupy all of Ukraine.
Putin raised the alarm yesterday when he called for the “demilitarization” of Ukraine.
He also said that he recognizes Luhansk and Donetsk as a whole as independent states, and not just parts under the control of the rebels.
And his foreign minister has called into question the sovereignty of Ukraine, presenting a blatant threat to the existence of a democratic country.
Today, Putin warned that his “unparalleled” hypersonic missiles are ready for war.
His threat came on Defender of the Fatherland Day, a national holiday honoring military personnel, and three days after he watched two new missiles being tested from a Bond villain-style “situation room.”
This comes amid reports that Russia is stockpiling blood in field hospitals along the border.
Ukraine has declared a state of emergency for 30 days and is calling on reservists aged 18 to 60 to resist the invading army.
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