Pentagon officials confirmed last week that US troops will deploy to Ukraine in the spring to help build the Ukrainian National Guard. In addition to sending US troops, Washington has already sent heavy military equipment and has earmarked $19 million for Ukrainian forces.
In its announcement, the Pentagon failed to mention that the Ukrainian National Guard includes the Azov Battalion, a pronounced neo-Nazi group that has reportedly been involved in the recent violence in Ukraine.
The emblem of the Azov battalion; a paramilitary, volunteer unit of the Ukrainian National Guard. Photo: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
The History of Azov
The Azov Battalion was formed in May 2014 as an all-volunteer paramilitary unit in response to the government's struggle against separatists in the country's east.
Funding for Azov comes from Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, a man who offered a bounty of $10,000 for each captured Russian "saboteur," as reported by Newsweek.
According to the BBC, Azov's aims are stated in one of their online publications: "To prepare Ukraine for further expansion and to struggle for the liberation of the entire White Race from the domination of the internationalist speculative capital," and "to punish severely sexual perversions and any interracial contacts that lead to the extinction of the white man."
"Run by the extremist Patriot of Ukraine organization, which considers Jews and other minorities "sub-human" and calls for a white, Christian crusade against them, it sports three Nazi symbols on its insignia: a modified Wolf's Hook, a black sun (or "Hakensonne") and the title Black Corps, which was used by the Waffen SS," stated the BBC.
In October of 2014, Azov Battalion servicemen took part in a march organized by Right Sector to commemorate the anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army who infamously undertook to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles in 1943 and 1944. And members of the Azov Battalion were shown on German TV wearing uniforms decorated with the Nazi swastika and SS symbols.
Vadim Troyan, an Azov deputy commander was appointed as Police Chief of Kiev Oblast (Region). "If they are appointing people like this to positions of such importance and power it is a very dangerous signal to the Jewish community of Ukraine," said Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office. "This is a very strange way of convincing the justifiably concerned Jewish world that there is no intention to encourage fascist sympathies or neo-Nazi activities."
Who are the fighters of Azov?
"To become an Azov fighter you have to be a proper white man," one Azov Battalion fighter told Sky News' Ross Kemp.
Though not all Azov fighters admit to being neo-Nazis, a number of their members are openly anti-Semites or white supremacists. "Personally, I'm a Nazi," said one member, "Phantom" a 23-year-old former lawyer. "I don't hate any other nationalities but I believe each nation should have its own country. After the First World War, Germany was a total mess and Hitler rebuilt it: he built houses and roads, put in telephone lines, and created jobs. I respect that." "Phantom" also claimed that homosexuality is a mental illness and the scale of the Holocaust "is a big question," wrote Tom Parfitt in The Telegraph.
"[One Azov member] claimed not to be a Nazi, but waxed lyrical about Adolf Hitler as a military leader, and believes the Holocaust never happened," according to Shaun Walker of the Guardian. Many in the Azov Battalion with whom the newspaper spoke shared this view.
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