Amid their looming defeat in the Donbas, which even The New York Times and Washington Post have belatedly and reluctantly begun to acknowledge of late, the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion is still struggling to make over its image, given the Western mainstream had long ago admitted them as a significant "neo-Nazi threat" - as one BBC documentary bluntly described years ago. But since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the public has been steadily told that Azov is merely "far right" or simply "nationalist" in their ideology. Or even better, the group just has far-right "roots" with images often "misunderstood" and shared "out of context"...
"Many soldiers who surrendered at a steel complex in Mariupol belong to the Azov battalion, a group with far-right roots," The New York Times wrote two weeks ago following the large-scale Ukrainian surrender at Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol. In the same article we are told this is merely a false "portrayal" the that Kremlin propagandists have presented. And now in new reporting on Monday, the UK Times assures its readers that "Azov Battalion drops neo-Nazi symbol exploited by Russian propagandists" in its headline. Below is the Times working overtime trying to run damage control...
The new insignia features a golden trident, the Ukrainian national symbol worn by other regiments https://t.co/2VQT9RkeIF— The Times (@thetimes) May 30, 2022
From the opening lines we are informed it's really all just "Russian propaganda" and exploitation: "The Azov Battalion has removed a neo-Nazi symbol from its insignia that has helped perpetuate Russian propaganda about Ukraine being in the grip of far-right nationalism."
Ah yes... when these fighters proudly display Nazi symbols, the real problem is Russian officials and media pointing it out: all very inconvenient of course.
But supporters can now Rejoice...as the group is busy fixing the issue of all its pesky pro-Hitler (literally) emblems and symbolism which has made their enlightened Liberal Western backers squirm just a bit:
"At the unveiling of a new special forces unit in Kharkiv, patches handed to soldiers did not feature the wolfsangel, a medieval German symbol that was adopted by the Nazis and which has been used by the battalion since 2014," the Times writes further.
"Instead, they featured a golden trident," or the entirely tame and much more common symbol use by Ukrainian national forces broadly.
But the question has to be asked: what of those myriad of symbols that can't be so easily whitewashed? (yes, pun intended). What about all those tattoos?
More Azov tattoos :— Elena Evdokimova (@elenaevdokimov7) May 26, 2022
1 photo "Time to kill"
2 nd - an attempt to disguise the Nazi Black Sun ?
3rd- Hitler's quote
4th- the same person, "Bears" [HALO?] tattoo? pic.twitter.com/Yj7voWOyz1
Below are a few samples of what Azov militants tend to look like sans uniforms and patches...
Many of the problematic patches which are apparently increasingly being taken off official uniform emblems (as the Times now assures) are still inked on skin, thus a bit harder to readily make disappear for the photo ops...
...in some instances the problematic insignia even shows up as items like eyepatches of all things:
One of the few countries to keep giving mainstream press coverage to Azov's clear neo-Nazi identity and ideology remains Israel.
For example Haaretz previously published the below photo, while featuring an array of Azov's unmistakably Nazi symbols, including those of the Waffen-SS:
Below, journalist and Russia-Ukraine war observer Michael Tracey has a few questions for the mainstream media...
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There are currently mountains of evidence, much of which was contemporaneously gathered over the course of the ongoing war, that Azov “defenders” at the very least physically adorn themselves with unabashed Nazi symbols.
Out of context?
Examples of such symbols that have been recently observed on their uniforms include the Wolfsangel, the Black Sun, and even a crest of a division of the SS — the paramilitary organization of the actual, historical Nazis. You know, the ones commanded by Hitler who exterminated lots of Jews.
If a bunch of Trump supporters were running around with these symbols stitched onto their clothing, do you suppose the US media would be extra charitable in deciphering whether they really subscribed to Nazism?
Don’t you hate it when propagandists exploit the swastikas that you willingly tattoo on your body? https://t.co/1XB42AS1QA— Independent journalist with CIA funding (@JournalistCia) May 30, 2022
At this very moment, you can log onto the ADL website and see the Wolfsangel, Black Sun, and other Azov-brandished iconography on the organization’s official list of “hate symbols” actively being “appropriated by Nazis.”
This is the same ADL which evidently sees no need to make even a cursory statement about the pro-Azov rallies breaking out in the streets of the US. “Don’t think we have any comment here. Thanks for reaching out,” Todd Gitnick, the ADL’s Communications Director, told me when I asked if they had any thoughts on the “Azov!” chanters in NYC.
Meanwhile, only a few short years ago...
This Ukrainian extremist group, called The Azov Battalion, has ties to neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Our latest report on international white supremacy details how they try to connect with like-minded extremists from the US: https://t.co/GtvssxwzbN https://t.co/gGHMM8L46k— ADL (@ADL) September 23, 2019
Read the rest of Tracey's commentary at Substack.