According to NBC News the Azov Battalion was “founded by an avowed white supremacist who claimed Ukraine’s national purpose was to rid the country of Jews and other inferior races.” The Azov Movement is neither just a “Nazi militia” or a “regular military unit”. It is a large & successful political movement with deep ties to the Kyiv regime, to organized crime, to domestic and foreign intelligence services and to extremist organizations all over the world.
The Guardian reported in 2015, "while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine's most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the [Donbas] separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government, and perhaps even the state." Its founder, Andriy Biletsky famously described the Azov Battalion's role in the Revolution of Dignity, "we have fun killing." According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
|"Ukraine's militaristic, far-right Azov movement and its various branches have used Facebook to promote its antidemocratic, ultranationalist messages and recruit new members since its inception at the start of the country's war against Russia-backed separatists five years ago. The American social-networking giant has also been an important platform for Azov's global expansion and attempts to legitimize itself among likeminded American and European white nationalists."|
The Christchurch, New Zealand killer who murdered 51 Muslim worshippers in 2019 received training from the Azov Battalion, and wore their insignia on his flak jacket during the shooting. The Buffalo, New York supermarket shooter who killed 10 civilians in May 2022 likewise employed the Azov Battalion's Black Sun logo on the cover of his 180-page manifesto.
After the incorporation of the Azov Battalion into the Ukrainian military, Azov leaders were dispersed throughout Ukrainian military and security services, and into its bureaucratic and political structure.
In 2019, the Soufan Center, created by former FBI agent Ali Soufan, who was involved in a number of counter-terrorism cases, warned about the connection between the Azov Battalion and white nationalists. “In Ukraine, the Azov Battalion has recruited foreign fighters motivated by white supremacy and neo-Nazi beliefs, including many from the West, to join its ranks and receive training, indoctrination and instruction in irregular warfare,” the report outlined.
(left) Black Sun logo worn by Christchurch mosque shooter; (right) Black Sun logo on the cover page of the Buffalo, New York supermarket shooter's manifesto.
On February 24, 2022 President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced Operation Denazification to clean out the fascist battalions which have waged war on the civilians of the Donbas Republics since 2014, killing at least 13,000. Politico reported, "The day after Russia launched its full-scale invasion, the Azov Regiment invited foreigners to join, Rita Katz of SITE Intelligence Group has detailed. Since then, neo-Nazis around the world have expressed enthusiasm for the fight." Azov Battalion members were added to Armed Forces of the Ukraine (AFU) units to function as political commissars, executing Ukrainian soldiers who wanted to surrender to Russian forces. Azov members were accused by civilian survivors of committing heinous war crimes against civilians, including murder and the use of civilians, including children, as human shields.
The roots of the Azov movement can be found in the Neo-Nazi soccer hooligan scene of Kharkiv. Andrei Biletsky was the central figure of the nascent movement for the longest time. A Kharkiv native, he joined numerous nationalist organizations, for example the Lviv-based “Tryzub”. He also actively supported the Kharkiv cell of the Social-National Party of Ukraine, now renamed Svoboda. In 2006, Biletsky founded Patriot of Ukraine, a nationalist organization that engaged in street violence and terrorism. Biletsky's patron during this period was Arsen Avakov, an Armenian-Ukrainian entrepreneur and politician. In 2005–2010, Avakov was the governor of Kharkiv oblast. During this period, Patriot of Ukraine was unofficially deputized by Kharkiv police. Biletsky's gang helped the police patrol the streets for illegal immigrants, and also to combat illegal businesses. Aside from their political activities, they served as enforcers for Avakov's business ventures and reached a significant level of political protection.
In 2011, Biletsky and several of his comrades were arrested for organized robbery; in early 2014, Avakov became Minister of the Interior after the Euromaidan coup and had them released from prison. The relationship with the hooligans continued. Russian Neo-Nazi Sergei Korotkikh aka “Botsman” is a personal friend of Avakov's son. Botsman also leads a separate Azov unit, the “Botsman Boys”.
Biletsky's Patriot of Ukraine group joined the Euromaidan protests and the notorious Pravy Sektor. Biletsky's men took part in the post-Euromaidan civil strife. Then known as “Little black men from Kharkiv”, they published threatening video messages to the Russian population; they rode around the country and engaged in political violence.
Biletsky's militants came to Odessa and participated in the May 2nd 2015 Trade Unions House massacre; they attacked Anti-Maidan protests in Kharkiv or straight up had pro-Russian activists “disappeared” with the help of the Ukrainian gestapo, the Security Service of Ukrainian (SBU).
The post-Maidan civil strife turned into civil war. The Euromaidan regime in Kyiv realized they could not rely on the Ukraine d army. Its elite military units were being humiliated by coal miner militias in Donbas. The "Volunteer Battalions," under the patronage of Arsen Avakov, were created. Azov, Aidar, Donbas, Tornado, Dnipro — these and many other Ministry of the Interior formations are infamous for their horrifying reign of terror in Eastern Ukraine.
The places where they were stationed, Shirokino, Zolotoye, Mariupol saw almost no fighting other than the battle for the Mariupol airport. This, however, didn't stop Azov from becoming famous. They ran the secret black site prison, "the Library" in Mariupol with the Kyiv regime gestapo, the SBU. In the city of Mariupol itself, hey started looting, raping, shooting random civilians, kidnapping, torturing and murdering pro-Russian activists, and other war crimes.
Azov transformed from a hooligan militia into a proper military unit with generous funding provided by Ukrainian oligarchs — not just Avakov, but also Kolomoisky and Rinat Akhmetov. Patriot of Ukraine became the “National Corps”, Azov's political wing. Not a mere political party, Azov's “civilian” organizations engaged in paramilitary training for radicals, children's education, charity, literature & many other things. They built a whole business empire ranging from publishing houses and tattoo parlors to brothels and drug dealing. Azov was involved in high-profile expropriations and hostile takeovers. Biletsky became a member of the Ukrainian Parliament. There were rumors that they tried to buy an island in Latin America. With political protection, mob ties & US sponsors they became a “state within the state”.
After Biletsky's departure into politics, Denys Prokopenko was left in charge of the military unit. Prokopenko became recognizable to the general public only when he refused to salute Zelensky at an awarding ceremony.
Mariupol became Azov's headquarters — a Russian-speaking city given to them as a feudal fiefdom by the Maidan regime. The city housed the headquarters and one of the regiment's battalions. Other battalions, including the most numerous, were established in Kharkiv Dnepropetrovsk. The leaders and iconic figures of the movement are concentrated in Kyiv. After the defeat at Mariupol in May 2022, Azov has been replenished with numerous supporters from the civilian corps and their own mobilization reserve.
Azov franchise is exists in Kyiv; the Kharkiv branch (“Kraken” and “Freikorps”) was the one responsible for videos of Russian prisoners of war being executed. Azov's political arm, the National Corps, has established a military dictatorship in Kharkiv during the SMO.
Western propaganda: rebranding Nazism
Roddy Keenan writing in The Saker observed, "‘Scratch a liberal and a fascist bleeds’, I was once told many years ago." Keenan continued, "One only has to look at the manner in which the Azov Battalion, a fully-fledged Ukrainian Nazi militia, with significant influence, has been whitewashed in the space of ten weeks. Whereas prior to February 24th 2022, they were recognized as a neo-Nazi battalion, these fascists are now being portrayed as valiant defenders of an oppressed people, fighting bravely against insurmountable odds." On the rare occasion that Western media refers to the ideology of the Azov units and the presence of other fascist groups such as C14, Pravy Sektor and Svoboda, it claims they have minimal impact on the politics of the Ukraine, pointing to their weak electoral performances. What they fail to point out, is that the mainstream’ parties are implementing policies that the fascists support. A leader of the fascist group C14, Yevhen Karas, described the 2014 Maidan coup as a ‘victory of nationalist ideas’. He went on to assert that without the influence of fascist groups, the Maidan coup would have been nothing but a ‘gay parade’.
According to so-called liberal democracies, even though there might be bad Nazis, there are also good fascists, whose adherence to Nazism is just an ideological quirk. Obviously, those who are on NATO's side are the good Nazis. And it's the Collective West that always gets to decide who is who.
Western media coverage of the air strike at a railway station in Kramatorsk that killed over fifty people and injured more than one hundred were initially widely reported, with images on front pages across the Western media. However, within forty-eight hours the story had disappeared and barely received a mention. This was due to an Italian news team identifying one of the missiles as being of the type used by Ukrainian forces. The narrative of Ukrainians killing civilians obviously didn't fit into the propaganda of the Collective West, and consequently, the dead and injured found instant irrelevance.
On May 14, 2022, an 18-year-old man in Buffalo, New York shot and killed 10 civilians at a supermarket. The shooter left behind a manifesto ornamented with the Azov Battalion Black Sun logo and highly critical of opponents of US support for the Ukrainian regime.
Ukrainian nationalism, and the Azov Battalion, have been described as a cult-like religion with its own Prayer and Ten Commandments. The Prayer of a Ukrainian Nationalist is a patriotic prayer text written in the late 1920s and early 1930s by one of the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Iosif Mashchak (1908-1976).
|"Burn with life-giving fire all the weakness in my heart. Let me not know fear, I do not know what hesitation is. Strengthen my spirit, temper my will, settle in my heart! Raise me for bright deeds. In these deeds, let me find death, sweet death in agony for you. And I will dissolve in you, and I will live forever in you, primordial Ukraine, holy, mighty, cathedral!"|
The Azov Battalion's anti-Semitism stems from the great famines of the 1920s and 1930s in the Ukraine and the rest of the country, resulting from Stalin’s confiscation of crops to finance the modernization of the Red Army. This genocide—known in the Ukraine as the Holodomor, though it hit Kazakhstan and the Volga region harder than it did Ukraine—was perpetrated by the NKVD (the forerunner of the KGB), whose some of its upper echelons of leadership were mainly composed of Jews. This is why, today, Ukrainian extremists are using this in order to be asking Israel to "apologize" for the crimes of communism, as the Jerusalem Post notes. Though Stalin had no Jewish links and rather persecuted Jews and he was the one overseeing all decisions. Nor is there a connection between those Communists and The state of Israel established by a variety of backgrounds and ideologies.
Since 2014 the Azov Battalion has organized summer training camps for children as young a six across Ukraine. The children are trained children to fight Russia. The summer camp training program constitutes the first stage of recruitment into the battalion. The program familiarizes young children with the use of light automatic weapons according to a 2015 article by The Kyiv Post. Children are trained by in a range of activities, such as stripping down and assembling AK-47 assault rifles, target practice with air guns, assault courses, and practicing combat and patrolling.
At such camps, the Azov Battalion's flag is lowered every day as the children and fighters together sing the chorus, 'Death to the Russians'. U.S. support for the Azov Battalion's training of child soldiers with weapons and funding is viewed throughout the planet as a crime against humanity.
- See also: Maidan coup
The Azov Battalion began as a volunteer formation in May 2014 shortly after the U.S.-backed Maidan coup, and in late 2014 was brought within the Ukrainian National Guard by the Maidan regime, and in 2015 became a regiment. From the outset it aroused considerable attention, including abroad, due to the pronounced neo-Nazi views of its leaders and members.
Real concern arose at the parliamentary elections in October 2014, with a number of leaders of volunteer battalions, including Andriy Biletsky and Ihor Mosiychuk from the Azov Battalion standing for election. After months of war against the Donetsk and Luhansk independent republics, any person seen as a Ukrainian military hero was effectively guaranteed a seat in parliament. This was the case with both Mosiychuk and Biletsky. Mosiychuk's parliamentary career has been filled with scandal, and he is currently facing criminal charges. Biletsky said "Ukraine's mission is to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade against Semite-led Untermenschen (subhumans)", echoing the words of Heinrich Himmler,
|"As long as there have been men on the earth, the struggle between man and the subhuman will be the historic rule; the Jewish-led struggle against the mankind, as far back as we can look, is part of the natural course of life on our planet. One can be convinced with full certainty that this struggle for life and death is just as much a law of nature as is the struggle of an infection to corrupt a healthy body."|
Given the alleged collaboration in Bila Tskerkva, it is perhaps of relevance that Vadim Troyan, Deputy Commander of Azov and, like Biletsky, a former member of the neo-Nazi ‘Patriot of Ukraine’, was appointed Head of the Kyiv Regional Police in November 2014.
As well as questionable activities during the Crimean Annexation, Azov Battalion activists have been accused of involvement in a racist attack on football fans during the Champions League football match in Kyiv on October 20, 2015, and it was their aggression and threats that prevented a remembrance gathering on January 19, 2016, for slain anti-fascist and anti-Maidan lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova.
In 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a provision blocking any training of Azov members by American forces, citing its neo-Nazi connections. The House had previously passed amendments banning support of Azov between 2014 and 2017, but due to pressure from the Pentagon, the amendments were quietly lifted. This was protested by the Simon Wiesenthal Center which stated that lifting the ban highlighted the danger of Holocaust distortion in Ukraine. NATO by-passed the congressional action by training Azov fighters in Canada. Congress later rescinded the prohibition.
To by-pass American law, NATO trained the Azov Nazis in Canada.
In March 2016 retired Canadian soldier Oksana Kuzyshyn spoke at an event titled “A Canadian’s experience training the AZOV Battalion to NATO standards”. One month earlier “nearly 200 officer cadets and professors of Canada’s Royal Military College” attended a screening of Ukrainians/Les Ukrainiens: God's Volunteer Battalion, which praised fascist militias fighting in the Donbas.
On November 9, 2021, Ottawa Citizen military reporter David Pugliese revealed that when Canadian military officials met with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion in June 2018, they knew the group used the Nazi “Wolfsangel” symbol and praised officials who helped slaughter Jews and Poles during World War II. “A year before the meeting,” reports Pugliese, "Canada’s Joint Task Force Ukraine produced a briefing on the Azov Battalion, acknowledging its links to Nazi ideology." Rather than express public disagreement with their views, Canadian military officials sought to manage any potential public relations fallout from at least two meetings, which included Azov representatives boasting about their Canadian support.
A September 2021 report from an Institute at George Washington University revealed that Centuria boasted about being trained by some of the 200 Canadian troops in the Ukraine. The report detailed Centuria members making Nazi salutes, praising SS units and promoting white supremacy.
Alongside the U.S., Canada has funded, equipped and trained the neo-Nazi infiltrated National Police of Ukraine (NPU), which was founded after the democratically Yanukovych was overthrown. A former deputy commander of the Azov Battalion, Vadim Troyan had a series of senior positions in the NPU, including acting chief.
To a large extent governments of Canada and the United States view Ukraine as a proxy to weaken Russia. As part of this geopolitical competition, they've backed neo-Nazi militia members fighting the independent Donbas republics.
- See also: Ukrainian propaganda war#Bucha massacre
Joe Lauria of Consortium News reported that The New York Times was in Bucha, Ukraine on April 2, 2022, and did not report a massacre. Instead, the Times confirmed the Russian withdrawal was completed two days after the mayor of Bucha said it was, and that the Russians left “behind them dead soldiers and burned vehicles, according to witnesses, Ukrainian officials, satellite images and military analysts.” The Times said reporters found the bodies of six civilians. “It was unclear under what circumstances they had died, but the discarded packaging of a Russian military ration was lying beside one man who had been shot in the head,” the paper said. In Bucha, the Times was close to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, whose soldiers appear in the newspaper's photographs. 'The Times suggests that Azov may responsible for the killings:
|“Something very interesting then happens on [Saturday] 2 April, hours before a massacre is brought to the attention of the national and international media. The US and EU-funded Gorshenin Institute online [Ukrainian language] site Left Bank announced that:
The Russian military has by now completely left the city, so this sounds for all the world like reprisals. The state authorities would be going through the city searching for ‘saboteurs’ and ‘accomplices of Russian forces.’ Only the day before [Friday], Ekaterina Ukraintsiva, representing the town council authority, appeared on an information video on the Bucha Live Telegram page wearing military fatigues and seated in front of a Ukrainian flag to announce ‘the cleansing of the city.’ She informed residents that the arrival of the Azov battalion did not mean that liberation was complete (but it was, the Russians had fully withdrawn), and that a ‘complete sweep’ had to be performed.”
According to War On Fakes, "the first unit of the Ukrainian armed forces to enter Bucha was the special forces of the National Guard of Ukraine. The official Telegram channel of the National Guard posted a video, filmed by the fighters of this detachment themselves. We can see on this video that the Ukrainian military calmly pass through the streets of the city—and no ‘mountains of corpses’ are visible on these streets.” War On Fakes then asks, “So where did the corpses on the streets of Bucha come from. And who are these people? The answer may lie in the video of the Territorial Defense of Ukraine, which clearly states the question ‘Can I shoot at them if there are no blue armbands?’ To which a positive response follows. The video was originally posted by the leader of the Territorial Defense Sergey ‘Botsman’ Korotkikh.” Sergey ‘Botsman’ Korotkikh later makes startling postings about the disappearance of Chilean/American journalist Gonzalo Lira from Kharkiv
Battle of Mariupol
- See also: Battle of Mariupol
On March 26, 2022, two officers of the main department of external security of the Ministry of Defense of the French Republic (DGSE) flying by helicopter were shot down by Russian forces while on a mission to withdraw fighters from the Battle of Mariupol. The two were immediately taken prisoner by the Russians. According to reports by both a Russian and Ukrainian source, French soldiers from the Special Operations Command were in Mariupol side by side with the Azov Nazis. Troops attached to the Special Operations Command are under the orders of Chief of the Defense Staff, General Thierry Burkhard, but they receive their orders directly from the Chief of the Armed Forces, President Emmanuel Macron. On March 31, 2022, General Eric Vidaud, the head of the Direction of Military Intelligence (DRM), was fired.
Public broadcaster France-Télévision presented a report on during the France-2 evening news, on March 31, 2022. The report acknowledged that the Azov Battalion consisted of neo-Nazi elements since 2014, singling out one of its founders, Andriy Biletsky, but insisted that it had evolved into a respectable defense force. However, France-2 omitted to mention its other founder, Dmytro Yarosh, who during the Russia-Ukraine war was Adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).
The French channel referred to an old United Nations report documenting systematic torture in Donbas, but it neglected to mention either the Azov Battalion's special prisons uncovered by the Russian army, or statements issued by the UN in this regard. France-2 also failed to explain the weight of the Banderites in Ukrainian nationalist history, reducing the prominence of the neo-Nazis to brandishing the swastika. France-2 reported the threat to be between 3,000 and 5,000 men, while Reuters reported the paramilitary Banderites number to be 102,000 men, split into several militias incorporated within the Territorial Defense.
On April 21, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed Gen. Sergey Shoigu to halt the storming of Azovstal, apparently shifting to a strategy of starving out the encircled remaining holdouts. It was thought that about 1,400 Ukrainian fighters and foreign mercenaries, along with dozens of NATO officers, civilian families of the fighters and possibly some civilian hostages were still holed up in the bunkers. The Azov regiment apparently had stockpiled enough food and drinking for a lengthy holdout. The Russians did not cut internet access. More than 142,000 civilians had been evacuated from the city. Gen Shoigu declared victory in the battle. An estimated 9,000-10,000 Ukrainian forces and mercenaries had been killed in the battle.
As of May 9, 2022, roughly 1,000 people, civilian and military, were reported to have been evacuated from Azovstal under the plan negotiated by UN General Secretary António Guterres and evacuations ended, leaving about 500 deadenders in the bunkers below. Humanitarian corridors were closed. On May 16 RT reported over 300 Azovstal holdouts surrendered.
On May 17, 2022, all fighting in Mariupol and within the confines of the massive Azovstal steel plant came to an end when liberating forces were able to shut off the water supply. Mass surrenders began, with 55 seriously wounded (ambulatory) taken immediately east to the Novoazovsk hospital in Donetsk, another 221 people were sent north to the Elenovka POW camp in Donetsk.
In Elenovka, interrogation of Ukrainian prisoners of war, some of whom have criminal cases (e.g., for abuse/torture or killing of civilians, or of rebel captives) opened in Russia for years. Among the Ukrainian military who surrendered, 144 people are fighters of the Interior Ministry's National Guard, of which the Azov Battalion is part. The Kremlin reportedly refused to exchange Nazi members of the Azov regiment as they committed numerous war crimes. The exchange of other servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine however can be negotiated.
On May 18, 2022, the total number of surrenders rose to 959. It was believed there were about 1,700 holdouts until the end. DPR leader Denis Pushilin told journalists, “A court will rule on the fate of Ukrainian militants who surrendered at Mariupol’s Azovstal plant…As for war criminals and those who are nationalists, if they laid down their arms their fate should be decided by the court. Regardless of the emotions of some people, I heard various opinions, if an adversary laid down the arms, the future fate is decided by the court. If this is a Nazi criminal, then by a court martial"
Commenting on the defeat, Jacob Dreizen said:
|"Now, everyone understands, if you are surrounded by Russia, you have two options: Surrender. Or death. That’s it. There will be no de-blockade, the Pope won’t ride to the rescue, and Russia doesn’t care what its NATO enemies think. This is a huge psychological shift, comparable to what happened to the Germans after Stalingrad.
After Stalingrad, the Germans, if faced with an imminent risk of encirclement, with very few exceptions, ran the hell away (or tried to.) And, the Ukrainian army, despite all the “Iron Cross” emblems on its hardware, is no Wehrmacht. This bodes ill for the Ukraine’s attempt to hold and defend the Severodonetsk-Lisichansk agglomeration in northern Lugansk—a hard-core Russian loyalist area, and likely the next big “cauldron.” Those two cities combined, are roughly half the size of Mariupol. Russian and Lugansk/Donetsk forces moving in on them, will be more numerous, and (by now) much more experienced than the forces that took Mariupol."
On July 29, 2022 Reuters reported the prisoner-of-war camp at Elenovka was hit by a U.S.-built HIMAR, causing the deaths of 40 prisoners and 13 guards and prison employees. At least one hundred other prisoners were injured. Sources reported that captured Ukrainian prisoners-of-war were giving up much critical information on U.S./Ukraine/NATO operations and illegal weapon's transfers, including arms to Kurdish terrorists in Syria to be used against NATO member Turkiye. Ukraine forces on the battlefield attempting to surrender have been documented to have been executed by Ukrainian commanders. A bill was introduced into the Ukrainian parliament granting legal authority to Ukrainian commanders to execute Ukrainian soldiers who wanted to surrender. Morale was reported to have fallen in recent weeks among Azov Battalion detainees as they realized the Kyiv regime was not negotiating for their exchange for Russian POWs.
- Ukraine Court Rules Manafort Disclosure Caused 'Meddling' in U.S. Election, The New York Times, December 12, 2018. National Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Artem Sytnyk and legislator Serhiy Leshchenko broke the law by revealing Manafort's name. The disclosure “led to interference in the electoral processes of the United States in 2016 and harmed the interests of Ukraine as a state,” the court said. https://www.theepochtimes.com/ties-to-ukrainian-national-a-unifying-theme-in-early-attacks-on-trump_2872609.html
In October 2019, an audiotape of Sytnyk was release discussing his efforts to help Hillary during the 2016 election. He and Leschenko were responsible for publishing the Black Ledger which forced Paul Manafort to resign from Trump’s campaign.
- Vaksberg, A. (1997). Stalin Against the Jews. (n.p.): Random House Value Publishing.
- Anti-jewish Policy Of The Ussr In The Last Decade Of Stalin's Rule And Its Impact On The East European Countries With Special Reference To Poland. Bozena Szaynok. Vol. 29, No. 2/4, THE SOVIET GLOBAL IMPACT: 1945-1991 (SUMMER-FALL-WINTER 2002 / ÉTÉ-AUTOMNE-HIVER 2002), pp. 301-315 (15 pages)
- Sergey ‘Botsman’ Korotkikh
- Azov Media YouTube Channel. Archived.
- Shooting, Neo-Nazis and Ukraine – Dangerous Liaisons, by Christelle Néant, March 19, 2019.
- EXCLUSIVE! AZOV Battalion Mariupol Headquarters Walkthrough!, John Mark Dougan, May 19, 2022. YouTube.
- 18+ The Azov Battalion Turn to Dust at Azovstal, Graham Phillips