- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Situation in Ukraine
On 24 February, Russia launched a special military operation amid Kiev's ongoing shelling of the DPR and LPR. President Vladimir Putin stated that the op is meant to protect the people of Donbass, and its goal is the complete demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.

Evidence Suggests US May Have Supported Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion

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Azov battalion soldiers take oath in Kiev before being sent to Donbass - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.03.2022
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The Azov Special Operations Detachment, also known as Azov Battalion, an infamous Ukraine-based neo-Nazi military regiment founded by white supremacists, garnered worldwide attention after its members were seen involved in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia's military operation in Ukraine aimed to "demilitarize" and "de-Nazify" Ukraine.
Last week, the Azov Battalion sparked outrage for an insulting and racist video shared by the National Guard of Ukraine (NGU) on Twitter, which appeared to show Azov members greasing bullets with pig fat. "Azov fighters of the National Guard greased the bullets with lard against the Kadyrov orcs," said the NGU account. NGU later deleted the offensive video from its account following criticism by numerous Twitter users.

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.
Was the US Behind It?

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.
Azov battalion soldiers take oath in Kiev before being sent to Donbass - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.03.2022
Situation in Ukraine
Why is the West Silent About Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Movements, Azov Battalion, & Bandera Legacy?
The multi-week program includes training in firearms, camouflage techniques, land navigation, tactics like "cover and move," intelligence and other areas, said the former officials. In addition to the above-mentioned, the CIA also started "traveling to the front in eastern Ukraine to advise their counterparts there by 2015," Yahoo reported.
Also in 2015, the US Congress removed a ban on funding neo-Nazi groups like Azov Battalion from its year-end spending bill, said an article by The Nation magazine in January 2016. In July 2015, two Congressmen drew up an amendment to the House Defense Appropriations bill that limited "arms, training, and other assistance to the neo-Nazi Ukrainian militia, the Azov Battalion," but the amendment was removed in November following "pressure from the Pentagon," an insider told The Nation.

"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.

Not surprisingly, observers reportedly saw American weapons in Ukraine "flowing directly to the extremists of Azov." In December 2017, Richard Vandiver of American weapon manufacturer AirTronic told VOA that its sales of lethal weapons to Ukraine were conducted in "very close coordination" with the US Embassy, the US State Department, the Pentagon and the Ukrainian government. Weeks later, the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab confirmed in a January 2018 report that Azov Battalion was a recipient of the transfer.

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."

In late 2021, the US was one of just two countries to veto a United Nations (UN) draft resolution "combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism." The other was Ukraine. "Both countries have consistently voted against this resolution every single year since 2014," wrote an article of American magazine Jacobin in January 2022.

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."
Evildoings Around the World

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.
Fighters of the Social Nationalist Assembly (SNA), part of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector party - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.02.2022
Belligerent Rhetoric & SS-Style Regalia: Who Are Right Sector and Neo-Nazi Azov?
US media in September 2019 reported an attempted terrorist attack by an America soldier who tried to bomb a major American news network. The soldier Jarrett William Smith, arrested by the FBI, said that he "planned to travel to Ukraine to fight with violent far-right group Azov Battalion," ABC News reported that month.

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.
*This article was originally published by The Global Times.
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