How Israel is arming Ukrainian Nazis - #40
Ukraine's Azov Battalion flies the Wolfsangel and other Nazi symbols.
Since just before Christmas, there’s been a lot of hype in the capitalist press about Russia supposedly planning an invasion of Ukraine.
Shades of Tony Blair’s infamous lie that Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” could be deployed within 45 minutes. Hardly anyone seems to be buying the pretext for the rush to war this time.
US President Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki is trying her best to convince people of the lie. But in a press conference last week, she gave the game away. In a telling Freudian slip, she referred to Ukraine and other Eastern European countries bordering Russia as “Our eastern flank countries” which she claimed the US had “a sacred obligation to support.”
This is the imperialist mentality in a nutshell. The US empire — like the British empire before it — asserts the divine right to rule the world by force.
But this time, even the client regimes are not buying it. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pushed back on Biden’s talk about supposed “minor incursions” into Ukraine.
And defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov has admitted that Russia has no plans to invade.
Meanwhile, the US, the UK and Canada are arming the Ukrainian government.
But what’s lost in all this coverage is what that means: it means the US and UK are arming Ukrainian Nazis.
Since 2014’s “Euromaidan” coup overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian government, anti-Russian, far-right forces have held the balance of power in the country.
The same hard-right street militias who fought in the streets leading the Euromaidan riots became increasingly armed and established thanks to Western support.
An outright neo-Nazi militia, the Azov Battalion, played a leading role in war against the majority Russian-speaking east, fighting against the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic.
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Azov was given the stamp of approval and designated an official part of the Ukrainian armed forces. It was integrated into Ukraine’s national guard, where it remains till today. In a press release as recently as last year, Azov boasted (in English) that they are “a structural unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and in some cases to the General Staff; its activity is regulated by the Constitution of Ukraine.”
How does Israel enter into all this?
Well in 2018, I revealed for The Electronic Intifada that Israel was one of the Western countries (along with the US, the UK and Canada) who are arming and training Ukrainian neo-Nazis, as part of what the US is now calling “lethal aid” to the Ukrainian government.
In a letter to lawyer Eitay Mack responding to reports that Israeli arms and training are going towards Avoz, the Israeli defence ministry did not deny the links, saying only that they were “careful to grant licenses” to arms exporters “in full coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government entities.”
In a video on YouTube, an Azov fighter “reviewed” a version of an Israeli “Tavor” rifle, manufactured by a Ukrainian state arms firm under licence from Israel Weapons Industries.
Azov’s copy of the video was later removed from YouTube.
When my story made it into the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Ukrainian government apparently felt compelled to respond. Under pseudonym “John Brown,” Haaretz had essentially ripped off my story (without credit — the Hebrew version even used all the same links as my article).
But what that did mean was that the Ukrainian ambassador in Israel then wrote to the paper’s publisher, attacking the messengers but — notably — not denying the substance of the story.
Although he attacked my story as “fake news,” at the same time he actually confirmed what it reported: namely that Israeli-licenced rifles are being produced by the Ukrainian government and handed over to the Nazi Azov Battalion. He also did not deny that Israel was training Azov.
My Work This Week
Two MEMO columns this week. The first was about a recent legal victory for BDS activists in Germany.
Anti-Palestinian feeling in Germany is extreme. German local and federal governments have attempted to take measures banning the BDS movement, which calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel… That's why it was brilliant to read this week that BDS activists in Germany had won an important victory.
The article is also available in Spanish.
Israel, supposedly “the only democracy in the Middle East” is in fact the only country in the world that routinely subjects children to military tribunals. And it does so on a purely racist basis – only to Palestinian children, and never to Jewish children.
The second article is also available in Spanish.
Finally, I recently returned to Sina Rahmani’s excellent show, The East is a Podcast, to discuss the political assassination of Jeremy Corbyn and the smearing of his supporters as anti-Semites.
Subscribe to Sina’s Patreon (for as little as $1/month!) and you can also listen to a bonus episode in which we continue the conversation by laying into Britain’s fake leftists, those who got “Labour anti-Semitism” oh so very wrong.
Tweet of the Week
In last week’s newsletter, I incorrectly stated that “Elbit last week won its second major victory in court.” Of course — as was hopefully still clear from the context — it was actually Palestine Action that won both of those cases. Apologies for any confusion. This has been corrected in the online post version.