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Ukraine Crisis

Pro-war “Z” symbol has been seen across Russia – but what does it mean?

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Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, a little-known symbol has gradually creeped into Russia’s arsenal of propaganda tools

The Latin letter ‘Z’ was first seen smeared on Russian military vehicles as they entered Ukrainian territory.

Analysts initially believed the symbol was being used to distinguish between forces and to indicate what district tanks were coming from, but it has since been seen in many other instances.

Increasingly, ‘Z’ is becoming a pro-war symbol – one that shows support for the military, for the Kremlin’s policies, and for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

The letter has historically had mythical associations but has quickly morphed into what some are calling, a stylised semi-swastika.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence has explained the symbol to stand ‘For Victory’.

Moscow’s concert in Luzhniki stadium displayed wide support for Z and the Kremlin

During a concert in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, Putin appeared in front of a podium that read, “For a world without Nazism”.

He addressed Kremlin’s forces saying “shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other”, praising Russians for the “unity” within the country.

“There is no greater love than giving up one’s soul for one’s friends,” Mr Putin says.

The concert marked the eight anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, showcasing dozens of Russian singers and celebrities.

Over 200,000 people attended the event with videos showing the crowd chanting “Russia!” while waving the country’s flag. 

Multiple Telegram channels have reported that some students and employees in attendance were pressured by their employers to attend the concert, although this has not been independently verified.

BBC journalist Will Vernon interviewed attendees after the concert finished and says many seemed embarrassed to be there.

Russian barred from calling the invasion a ‘war’

The Kremlin has since banned Russians from calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a war, instead labelling it a “special operation”.

Russia’s English state-owned channel, RT, has officially been calling the war in Ukraine “Special Operation Z” and advertising t-shirts with the Z symbol.

One online shop based in Russia has been selling a myriad of products displaying the Z logo, including window stickers for cars.

Many within Russia and abroad have condemned the symbol, which they see as a fascistic emblem of state-mandated blind loyalty and a militarised society.

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

Media

Body behind Eurovision “understands the disappointment” over next host city

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Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision contest in May, capturing the hearts of the world

After taking out the win, that would mean Ukraine would host the competition next year.

But the European Broadcasting Union announced last week it could not be held in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

The body behind Eurovision now says it “understands the disappointment” over its decision not to hold next year’s song contest in Ukraine.

The EBU said it was in talks with the BBC to host the contest in the UK.

That’s because British entrant Sam Ryder came second in this year’s contest with his single Spaceman.

The announcement was met with disappointment by Ukrainians but the E-B-U doubled down on its position, saying in a statement that it “fully understands the disappointment that greeted the announcement”.

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Business

Nike to fully exit Russia

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U.S. sportswear maker Nike is making a full exit from Russia, three months after suspending its operations there, the company said in an emailed statement Thursday

The sportswear giant had said back in March that it would suspend operations at all the stores it owns or operates there.

On Thursday (June 23) the firm said it would leave the country altogether.

In a statement, Nike said it would scale down over the coming months.

The move is largely symbolic for the company, which gets less than 1% of its revenue from Russia and Ukraine combined.

It says any stores that are still open there are run by independent partners.

In May, Russian media reported that Nike had not renewed agreements with Inventive Retail Group, its largest franchisee there.

Now the full exit lputs Nike in line with other major western brands such as McDonald’s and Google.

Foreign companies seeking to leave face the prospect of new laws being passed that will allow Moscow to seize assets and impose criminal penalties.

That has prompted some businesses to accelerate their departure plans.

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Ukraine Crisis

New candidates – Ukraine and Moldova one step closer to joining EU

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Ukraine and Moldova have officially been granted E-U candidate status, moving the nations one step closer to joining the union

At a European leaders meeting in Brussels, the decision comes nearly four months after Ukraine’s Zelensky launched his country’s bid to join the bloc, and deals a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the Kremlin has been acting as though it’s no big deal, with Putin claiming he has “nothing against” the possible membership, saying it’s Ukraine’s “sovereign decision” to join or not.

Ukrainian President Zelensky has welcomed the move, calling it “a unique and historic moment” and says his country’s future is in the EU.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has declared it “a good day for Europe”.

While candidate status is the first official step toward E-U membership, it can take many years to join and there’s no guarantee the process will be successful.

The process can also go into reverse, if a future Ukrainian government fails to implement certain reforms on the rule of law and its economy.

But the Commission president has hope.

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