When Congress passed a spending bill in 2018, it included a provision in the 2,232 page bill to prevent U.S. arms from going to an ultranationalist militia in Ukraine known to have open neo-Nazis in its ranks, known as the Azov Battallion.
Mainstream media on the subject of powerful neo-Nazis in Ukraine is split between trying to deny or downplay their existence, giving back-handed praise, and admitting the problem.
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The Hill reported in 2018 that U.S. arms had ended up in neo-Nazi hands in the past.
“House-passed spending bills for the past three years have included a ban on U.S. aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion, but the provision was stripped out before final passage each year,” The Hill noted.
The story continued, “This year, though, the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law last week stipulates that ‘none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.”
Speaking to The Hill, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna told the news outlet, “White supremacy and neo-Nazism are unacceptable and have no place in our world.”
“I am very pleased that the recently passed omnibus prevents the U.S. from providing arms and training assistance to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion fighting in Ukraine,” Khanna added.
Khanna said in a statement, “The State Department should pressure Kiev to dissociate itself with this group and investigate whether any of our weapons or training have already been provided to them. This is just one of many reasons why lawmakers should be concerned about channeling huge amounts of weapons into this volatile conflict zone.”
The Azov Battalion militia was founded in 2014, and its “first commander was Andriy Biletsky, who previously headed the neo-Nazi group Patriots of Ukraine. Several members of the militia, which has been integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard, are self-avowed neo-Nazis.”
Readers who have been following the war in Ukraine may have noticed the curious number of photos shared by Ukrainian and Western media that unknowingly or inadvertently highlight neo-Nazis or individuals wearing neo-Nazi symbols.
The official Twitter account for NATO deleted a tweet celebrating “International Women’s Day” that featured a female Ukrainian fighter with the Nazi Sonnenrad patch on her uniform.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) notes, “The sonnenrad or sunwheel is one of a number of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis in their attempt to invent an idealized “Aryan/Norse” heritage.”
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also seeking to celebrate women in the military, shared an image of a woman wearing a Sonnenrad (lower right image):
The Poland-based NEXTA, an Eastern European media outlet, openly celebrated NATO arms going to the Azov battalion. The photo on the right shows the unit’s insignia, which is a Wolfsangel.
The ADL notes of the Wolfsangel, “It appeared as part of the divisional insignia of several Waffen-SS units, including the notorious 2nd SS ‘Das Reich’ Panzer Division.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly told military members that their mission was to liberate Ukraine from Nazis that he claims have taken over the country.
While this is patently false, the fact that a substantial number of Nazis operate openly in Ukraine is no doubt a morsel of enough truth to sustain Putin’s war mythology.
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Or as NBC News’ Allan Ripp put it, “Even though Putin is engaging in propaganda, it’s also true that Ukraine has a genuine Nazi problem — both past and present. Putin’s destructive actions — among them the devastation of Jewish communities — make clear that he’s lying when he says his goal is to ensure anyone’s welfare.”
“But important as it is to defend the yellow-and-blue flag against the Kremlin’s brutal aggression, it would be a dangerous oversight to deny Ukraine’s antisemitic history and collaboration with Hitler’s Nazis, as well as the latter-day embrace of neo-Nazi factions in some quarters,” Ripp observed.
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