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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Carte blanche for neo-Nazis: Washington cancels US arms ban on Ukrainian Azov brigade


Azov soldier marching in Kiev, 2020 -- spoilt.exile, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


By Ina Sembdner, Junge Welt, translation from the German by Helmut-Harry Loewen


The more Ukraine falls behind on the battlefield, the more extreme the measures taken by its allies become. For example, “the 12th Azov Brigade of the Ukrainian Special Forces has passed the Leahy review conducted by the US State Department,” the State Department reported, after a ”thorough review” according to the Washington Post on Monday. The “Leahy Law” prevents US military aid from going to foreign units that have demonstrably committed serious human rights violations. The State Department found “no evidence” of this.


In the wake of the 'Euromaidan' and the racist violence against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine, Azov was banned from using US weapons around a decade ago. However, the members of the brigade were the first to pose with newly supplied Western weapons immediately after the Russian invasion in February 2022. Now they officially have “access to the same US military support as any other unit.”


It remains unclear when exactly the ban was lifted. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry declined to provide the newspaper with any information on this. It also remains unclear whether the US weapons have already reached Azov fighters. Neither the leadership of the neo-Nazi brigade - whose still revered founder Andriy Biletsky vowed to ‘”lead the white races of the world in a final crusade ... against Semite-led subhumans [Untermenschen]" - nor the Ukrainian government responded to enquiries from the Washington Post in this regard. In March 2022, the Post itself ran the headline regarding Azov: “Neo-Nazis are exploiting Russia's war in Ukraine for their own ends.” Their goal was not the defence of a democratic Ukraine, it said at the time, but “a shared vision for an ultranationalist ethno-state.” The war offers a “golden opportunity to pursue this goal and turn it into a model that can be exported to the whole world.”


The war and the increasing demand for weapons and ammunition also harbours a “golden opportunity’ for others. For example, Germany's largest defence company Rheinmetall opened its first joint tank repair facility and a production plant in Ukraine on Monday. The company wants to support the country “efficiently and reliably,” said CEO Armin Papperger, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence. And both sides have big plans. With the help of Western defence companies, Ukraine wants to become one of the world's leading arms manufacturers in the future, and Rheinmetall wants to become one of the world's leading arms manufacturers. The money for the base required for this is currently being collected at the Ukraine Recovery Conference taking place in Berlin. And as recently as Monday, [the German business weekly] Wirtschaftswoche reported, citing an insider, that Rheinmetall's ambition is to be “one of the pillars of national and international security provision.” Papperger's entrepreneurial ambition is hurt by the fact that although his company is attracting a lot of attention worldwide, it is at best playing in the second league in the industry, both financially and in terms of deliveries. After an increase in market capitalisation to around 22 billion euros since 2021, “50 billion is now conceivable.”

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