A Pro-Putin activist has displayed his support for the Russian invasion by erecting a disturbing symbol outside a consulate in Sydney.
Upsetting footage has shown a pro-Putin activist erecting a supposed anti-Ukraine military symbol outside Sydney’s Russian consulate.
Renowned Russian-educated man Simeon Boikov was captured on Saturday drilling a canvas with the letter “Z” on it to a wooden post outside the building in Woollahra, in the city’s east.
“Z is the last letter of the English alphabet. After Z, there will be a new beginning [for Ukraine],” a man was heard saying in the video, uploaded to YouTube on Sunday.
The letter has been displayed on Russia’s tanks and trucks during their unruly invasion of Ukraine, however it’s unclear what exactly they represent.
While some have speculated the letter Z has been used to distinguish Russian military vehicles from Ukraine’s, an expert believes it likely has more to do with where each vehicle is headed.
“Often these symbols will be location based – they will be communicating where a unit is heading,” Professor Michael Clarke, former director of the defence think tank Rusi, told Sky News UK.
“If they were only to mark the vehicles as being Russian, you could just use one symbol.”
The letters are painted on with infra-red paint that reflects infra-red light while maintaining its colour.
Prof Clarke said there were other symbols being used by Russia, which indicated there were “probably signs which tell you which units are heading to the northeast or northwest of a district, for example”.
Symbols of that nature were typically painted on military units before a battle was expected, he added.
Several examples of symbols on Russia’s assets have been observed in recent footage of the Ukraine invasion.
Journalists and military experts are concerned about the recurring “Z” symbol appearing on Russian vehicles due to brewing uncertainty over what it means.
Aric Toler, a reporter from Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative journalism group, noted that some Russian vehicles have been marked out with a white square and a “Z” over the top, but not others.
Mr Toric said his news organisation had “been monitoring this stuff non-stop for eight years and has no idea what they [the Zs] are, and hasn‘t seen it before.
“So, assume the worst, I guess/fear.”
Some have referred to it as the “Zorro squad”.
Some have speculated that the ominous signs are a way to make sure Russians can tell their own vehicles apart from their enemies.
This was a practice employed by the Allies in World War II to reduce the chance of soldiers firing on “friendly” forces.
At this point it remains unclear as to the purpose of the mystery marks.
Pro-Ukraine protesters gathered in Canberra and Sydney over the weekend with flags and signs condemning President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to topple the Ukrainian government.
Hundreds marched from the Russian Consulate towards Circular Quay on Sydney Harbour, many braving the rain for two consecutive days.
Mr Boikov, who operates the YouTube channel Aussie Cossack, reportedly confronted several male members of the pro-Ukraine crowd.
Large protests were also held in London, New York and Paris along with dozens of other cities around the world.