Whether you say “zee” or “zed,” Vladimir Zelensky wants the letter Z banned from global usage immediately. Yes, he’s serious.

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow: People wave flags with the letter Z in the colors of the ribbons of St. George as a symbol of support for Russian military actions in Ukraine. Ramil Sitdikov/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A Big Ask

That’s right, Ukraine is asking the world to criminalize the use of the letter Z when used as a symbol of support for Russian aggression against their country.

The irony isn’t lost on me that the word “criminalize” contains the forbidden letter…but I digress.

In a Tweet last Tuesday, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, wrote:

“I call on all states to criminalize the use of the ‘Z’ symbol as a way to publicly support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Screenshot of @DmytroKuleba Twitter feed











Beginning As A Signal Of Russia’s Military Weakness, “Z” Becomes A Nationalist Symbol In Russia

Read Next: Beginning As A Signal Of Russia’s Military Weakness, “Z” Becomes A Nationalist Symbol In Russia




Dual Meaning Described

You may recall from an earlier SOFREP post that the letter Z, when written on military vehicles, indicates that they are from units in the eastern Russian military district. Another piece went a bit further and described how the letter/symbol took on a meaning of nationalist, pro-war pride.


Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov went as far as to call the Z symbol a “Nazi mark” on Twitter.

From @oleksiireznikov Twitter feed

Germany and the war on Z

One European country that has already jumped on the anti-Z bandwagon is Germany. Last Monday, they announced that individuals who use the verboten letter to express their support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine could be prosecuted. Freakin’ prosecuted…with possible jail time.

A German Interior Ministry spokesperson told reporters during a recent press conference on the matter: “Whoever publicly approves of this war of aggression can also make themselves liable to prosecution.”

He went on to say: “The letter Z as such is of course not forbidden, but its use may in individual cases constitute an endorsement of the Russian war of aggression.” 

The Corporate World Is in on the Act

 Zurich Insurance has removed its Z logo from all social media postings so that it is not misinterpreted as showing support for the Russian war effort in Ukraine.

Image courtesy of Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

In a statement to Reuters, a company spokesperson said:

“We are temporarily removing the use of the letter ‘Z’ from social channels where it appears in isolation and could be misinterpreted. We’re monitoring the situation closely and will take further actions if and when required.”

As an aside, Zurich Insurance said earlier this month that it was no longer taking on new domestic customers in Russia.

In the same vein, global electronics giant Samsung has quietly dropped the Z branding from its folding phones in an attempt to avoid any confusion over its position in the Ukrainian conflict.
A Samsung folding phone, part of their Z series. Image courtesy of pc.com

Samsung hasn’t dropped the Z totally, however, only in certain eastern European countries such as Estonia and Latvia, where they are now known as the Galaxy Fold 3 and Galaxy Flip 3.

One Step Further

Latvia has apparently banned the use of the letter V as well, as it is found written on invading Russian military vehicles in addition to the dreaded Z.

The Latvian parliament has adopted the ban with a new law stating that the letters “glorify military aggression and war crimes”. 

These bans beg the question: How are we supposed to spell the last name of the Ukrainian President?