Evidence Suggests US May Have Supported Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion
Azov Battalion is reportedly a unit of the NGU, backed by Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs. Despite its possible official background in Ukraine, Azov Battalion is known in the West for its extreme neo-Nazi stance, and for its suspected involvement in a number of terrorist attacks and separatist incitement incidents in various countries and regions, including the riots in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2019.
Ironically, despite being widely regarded as a threat to world security and an enemy of human civilization, Azov Battalion was found to have ties not only with the Ukrainian authorities but also with the US. After looking into the public information from the US government and some investigative reports by Western journalists, the Global Times discovered that American politicians, military and intelligence officers were highly likely to have had cooperation with the Azov Battalion, in order to foster extremist forces in Eastern Europe against Russia.
Since Azov Battalion was founded in 2014, many American media outlets have revealed its potential connections with the US authorities.
According to a Yahoo News article from January 2022, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been secretly training forces for Ukraine since 2015. The CIA has been overseeing a secret intensive training program in the US "for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and other intelligence personnel," the article quoted "five former intelligence and national security officials familiar with the initiative" as saying.
"Considering the fact that the US Army has been training Ukrainian armed forces and national guard troops, ... Congress and the administration have paved the way for US funding to end up in the hands of the most noxious elements circulating within Ukraine today," commented the article's author James Carden, suggesting that the US military had also engaged in the training of NGU, which may include Azov Battalion members.
There must be some connections between Azov Battalion and the US, especially US intelligence agencies, said Li Wei, an expert on national security at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
"Supporting Ukraine's neo-Nazis serves the US' own interests," Li told the Global Times. "By inciting conflicts between Ukraine and Russia, the US has weakened Russia and further pushed Ukraine to NATO; it has also improved its relations with Europe, which has become more strategically dependent on the US. The US is really the biggest beneficiary of Russia-Ukraine tensions."
With its Cold War mind-set, the US has been fanning anti-Russia flames in Eastern Europe, being very much conniving with the neo-Nazi forces there, international relations scholars criticized.
"We've seen the US support or assist terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS)," Li said. "The US messes with the world for its own geopolitical interests."
In December 2019, some Ukrainian neo-Nazis including Azov Battalion members were seen at separatist riots on the streets of Hong Kong, causing panic among local citizens, Hong Kong media reported.
It was not the first time that Azov Battalion members were involved in terrorist or violent incidents. In March 2019, 51 people were killed at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in a mass shooting by Australian Brenton Tarrant. Tarrant, who displayed a symbol used by Azov Battalion during the attacks, claimed in his manifesto that he had traveled to Ukraine, according to an article published on the website of the Atlantic Council in February 2020.
Inside Ukraine, Azov Battalion is also infamous for its evil in the eastern region. It was accused of displacing residents after looting civilian properties between November 2015 and February 2016, according to a 2016 report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The report also accused Azov Battalion of raping and torturing detainees in the Donbass region during the period. It violated international law as well as the Minsk Agreements, said the report.