Russians are being told that Ukrainian troops are practising black magic after a ” Satanic seal” was found daubed on the wall of a battle post.
State news agency RIA has released images of the battered remnants of the Ukrainian artillery headquarters on the outskirts of a village called Trekhizbenka.
A so-called “expert” claimed the symbol – made up of the anarchy sign with scribbles in the spaces in between – is a hybrid insignia of Nazism and occultism.
Ekaterina Dais told RIA: “This is a magical sigil (symbol) consisting of many intersecting lines.
“What it means is difficult to say for sure, in it you can see both the inverted sign of anarchy, and part of the “SS” sign, the rune zig, it is clearly visible in the extreme left sector of the circle, and the Hebrew letter “zain” written in German, meaning a sword or weapon.”
The propagandist publication goes on to remark the sigil was drawn in one continuous hand movement – which also points to its “occult nature”.
RIA added the Ukrainian mortarmen had made attempts to “consecrate” their weapons and smeared blood over a document – a practice said to enable someone to make a pact with a demon.
Dais drew attention to the word “Zain” scrawled crudely under the symbol which she says means “sword” in the Hebrew alphabet.
She said: “Perhaps the spell’s authors performed rituals to strengthen weapons or ‘asked’ for more weapons to be sent to them.”
Dais’ comment about the unfinished “SS” symbol is the most-recent example of state propaganda supporting the Kremlin’s branding of Ukraine as a neo-Nazi state.
Putin has repeatedly called the government in Kyiv a neo-Nazi regime and dubbed the invasion a “special military operation” to rid its former Soviet ally from the grips of its far-right dictators.
But at the start of April, a far-right Russian batallion called Rusich were spotted on the Ukrainian border.
They are notorious for their cruel tactics and post-mortem mutilations, including the collecting the ears of enemies downed on the battlefield.
The unit is linked to private military company, the Wagner Group, which is backed by the Kremlin and is said to currently have 1,000 soldiers operating in eastern Ukraine.
Rusich was founded nearly a decade ago in St Petersburg by Red Army paratrooper Aleksei Milchakov, 30, and Yan Petrovsky, 33 – after the pair met at a white supremacist event.
Symbols have been a prominent feature for both sides since the start of the invasion.
One that has become particularly infamous is the Kremlin’s chilling “Z” – which has been plastered across social media, and the tanks rolling through Ukrainian neighbourhoods.
Perhaps most shockingly, one was also seen draped on the chest of a Russian athlete.
Not a part of the Cyrillic alphabet, the Z was first seen painted on the side of tanks and equipment ahead of the invasion alongside other letters including V, A, X, and O.
At the time it was thought the lettering performed two jobs: to mark out Russian equipment from the often very similar military vehicles of Ukraine, and to indicate where that equipment was destined for or originated from.
Now though questions hang over this theory – after almost two weeks of full-scale war in mainland Europe, the lettering has changed its meaning into something far more symbolic.