Ukraine’s Azo Battalion

Troops from Ukraine’s Azo Battalion, which is known for its neo-Nazi roots, will be employed by Kyiv to wage a new offensive in the east in “stormtroopers” brigades, a term made famous by the ruthless German soldiers during WWII. reported that the idea for the new brigades came from Denys Monastyrskyi, Ukraine’s former minister of Internal Affairs, who died in a helicopter crash last month. The report said the new team will be formed on an “ideological” basis.

The Azovs are a neo-fascist battalion “which is described by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry as a ‘legendary unit’ that ‘heroically defended Azovstal’ in Mariupol,” the report said. 

TRENDPOST: The mainstream press has essentially reported nothing on the neo-Nazi forces or Kyiv’s uneasy admiration of Stepan Bandera, the Nazi collaborator. (See “UKRAINE’S AZOV BATTALION: ‘NAZIS OR ‘FAR-RIGHT?’ DON’T CALL A SPADE A SPADE” 22 Mar 2022, “POLAND ANGERED BY UKRAINIAN PRAISING NAZI COLLABORATOR” 10 Jan 2023, “UKRAINIAN CITY CHANGES STREET NAME FOR NAZI HEAD” 29 Nov 2022 and “TOP UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR: HEIL HITLER” 5 Jul 2022.) 

The Azov Battalion formed in May 2014—shortly after Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine and go Russian—was comprised of civilian volunteers from neo-Nazi groups who faced off against Russian separatists in places like Donbas.

They were known to engage in “xenophobic and neo-Nazi ideals and physically assaulted migrants, the Roma community, and people opposing their views,” Al Jazeera reported.

The battalion managed to retake Mariupol from these separatists a short time later and joined the National Guard of Ukraine.

The Azov Battalion was one of the reasons that Russian President Vladimir Putin said he invaded the country. He said he wanted to “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine.”

Putin’s critics say the Kremlin is loose with the Nazi designation and uses it to win support from the public against adversaries.

The group’s emblem is the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol but the Azovs deny that it follows Nazi ideology. Al Jazeera reported that in 2015, about 20 percent of the recruits for the regiment identified as Nazis.

Don’t Believe Us?

Long forgotten is the reality of the neo-Nazi elements of Ukraine that even the mainstream U.S. media reported several years ago. 

Banned from Western media today, this was from USA Today eight years ago: 

Volunteer Ukrainian unit includes Nazis

Oren Dorell 10 March 2014

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — A volunteer brigade with self-proclaimed Nazis fighting alongside government troops against Russian-backed separatists is proving to be a mixed blessing to its cause.

Though the 900-member Azov Brigade adds needed manpower to repulse the rebels, members who say they are Nazis are sparking controversy, and complaints of abuses against civilians have turned some residents against them.

A drill sergeant who would identify himself only as Alex wore a patch depicting Thor’s Hammer, an ancient Norse symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In an interview with USA TODAY, he admitted he is a Nazi and said with a laugh that no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis. He said he supports strong leadership for Ukraine, like Germany during World War II, but opposes the Nazis’ genocide against Jews. Minorities should be tolerated as long as they are peaceful and don’t demand special privileges, he said, and the property of wealthy oligarchs should be taken away and nationalized.

He vowed that when the war ends, his comrades will march on the capital, Kiev, to oust a government they consider corrupt.

‘Not Accidental’

Jason Melanovski wrote in WSWS that Ukraine’s use of the term “stormtrooper” was by “no means accidental, as both the Azov Regiment and the Ukrainian military leadership have made no secret about their fascination with Nazi Germany and their Ukrainian collaborators in the Holocaust.” 

He wrote that Valerii Zeluzhnyi, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, is “regularly photographed with OUN memorabilia and portraits of the Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. Andriy Biletsky, the founder and former head of Azov, stated in 2010 that he believed the ‘national purpose’ was to ‘lead the white races of the world in a final crusade…against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans].”

TRENDPOST: Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., took issue with Stanford University for sponsoring an event that featured soldiers from the Azov Battalion, in an apparent effort to normalize the group. These troops joined anti-Russian Michael McFaul, a failed U.S. diplomat who teaches at the school. 

“It would appear that in its maniacal drive to tarnish and cancel Russia, the U.S. is prepared to glorify Nazism,” Antonov said, according to Al Mayadeen. These troops are ostensibly on an anti-propaganda campaign and are visiting colleges across the U.S. 

The news outlet noted that major Western news publications, including The New York Times, have previously labeled the Ukrainian group as ‘neo-Nazi.’

Unherd reported that the Western commentariat and political class is now extended to the Azov Battalion.

The report said, Paul Massaro, a U.S. Federal Government employee and senior policy advisor at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, “posted a photo of himself on Twitter proudly holding up an Azov flag. A few days later, this was followed by a picture of him wearing a Stepan Bandera patch in a now-deleted tweet. Arguing with one objector, he asserted that “Azov made a heroic last stand at Azovstal and are considered heroes in Ukraine”, adding that “Bandera is viewed through the lens of the struggle for Ukrainian independence.”

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist, took to Twitter to point out that The New York Times identified the Azov Battalion as “openly neo-Nazi” in 2015, but now refers to the group as “far-right.”

“All you have to do to lose your status as a “Nazi” is fight on the side of the U.S.,” he posted.

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