Zurich Insurance said it has removed the letter “Z” from its social media branding as a result of Russia’s use of the letter during its war in Ukraine.

“The Zurich brand has been around for 150 years. It is a trusted brand and we have proven our ability to change and respond to challenges over time,” said Zurich Insurance Group in a statement. “We are temporarily removing the use of the letter ‘Z’ from social channels where it appears in isolation and could be misinterpreted.”

While the origins of Russia’s use of the symbol are a mystery, various press reports indicate it is shorthand for “victory” or “west,” and it has been adopted as a pro-war symbol by some Russians. The letter has been painted on Russian tanks and other military vehicles in Ukraine.

“The Russian defense ministry itself has not commented on any of the theories, and instead posted on its Instagram channel that Z meant Za pobedu (for victory),” according to The Guardian newspaper.

“The most popular theory used by military experts to explain the letters is that they were written according to the respective areas where the Russian troops are usually stationed, with Z potentially standing for Zapad (west),” added The Guardian.

The Z symbol is now being used to show support for the war in Russia and is being displayed “on people’s cars, on T-shirts, on vans with business logos and even on war supporters’ social media avatars,” said a report from Sky News.

*Top photo: People walk past the letter Z, which has become a symbol of the Russian military, and a hashtag reading “We don’t abandon our own” on an advertisement screen in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo)