US Lifts 10-Year Weapon Ban On Ukraine's Neo-Nazi Azov Brigade

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024 - 09:20 PM

The US State Department on Tuesday announced that it is lifting a longtime ban on giving weapons and training to Ukraine's notorious Azov Brigade (often referenced by its earlier name Azov Battalion).

The question must immediately be asked: Do Washington policy-makers think enough time has passed that people have simply forgotten that this is an unabashed neo-Nazi outfit? Do they think we no longer remember this from just a year ago?...

Even mainstream media has long grudgingly admitted that "in response to the neo-Nazi ideology of the group's founders, the US had banned the regiment from using American weapons in 2014."

But the State Department is now claiming it has found "no evidence" that the extremist militant group has committed human rights violations or war crimes (in which case US law would prohibit providing weapons or training). This after President Volodymyr Zelensky himself has long been seen paling around with Azov commanders in public appearances.

The group's members have never been shy about sporting Nazi-inspired patches either. But all the while mainstream pundits in the West have sought to downplay and soften these obvious symbols of their ideology.

Images of Azov fighters with Nazi flags and symbols abound on the internet, but the groups has sought a "rebranding" of late. 

The Associated Press too in its following Tuesday reporting attempts to awkwardly downplay all of this as merely a 'few bad apples' type of situation, which the AP also says is fundamentally stoked by Russia:

The Azov Brigade is among Ukraine’s most effective and popular fighting units but it has been dogged by its origins as a volunteer battalion that drew fighters from far-right circles and criticism for some of its tactics. The U.S. had banned the regiment from using American weapons, citing the neo-Nazi ideology of some of its founders.

The current members of the Azov Brigade, which has been absorbed into Ukraine’s National Guard as the 12th Special Forces Brigade, reject accusations of extremism and any ties with far-right movements. But the Kremlin has seized on the regiment’s origins in its efforts to cast Russia’s invasion as a battle against Nazi influence in Ukraine.

The New York Times and other publications earlier characterized controversy surrounding Azov as merely "thorny" and "complicated". Below is a small sampling of the kinds of patches that appear on Ukrainian military uniforms with "some regularity" - in the words of the NY Times:

The supposedly 'regularized' Azov Brigade is now celebrating the Biden administration's change of heart. "This is a new page in our unit’s history," it wrote on Instagram. "Azov is becoming even more powerful, even more professional and even more dangerous for occupiers."

"Obtaining Western weapons and training from the United States will not only increase the combat ability of Azov, but most importantly, contribute to the preservation of the lives and the health of personnel," the statement said.

This reminds us of the way Al-Qaeda in Syria underwent constant name iterations and new branding efforts in hopes of attracting Western support in the drive to topple Assad.

...and it by and large worked as American media consumers were for a decade of war in Syria constantly treated to a barrage of changing acronyms in headlines referencing supposed 'moderate rebel' groups, but who in actuality maintained varying shades of Al-Qaeda and ISIS ties.

Revisiting Azov's long-haul 'rebranding' campaign and hiccups along the way, and a little helping hand from NY Times writers...

The Kremlin responded within hours after the US reversal was announced: "This sudden change of stance by Washington proves that [US officials] would stoop to anything in their attempts to suppress Russia, using the Ukrainian people as a tool. They are even fine with flirting with neo-Nazis," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing.