Washington Post shamelessly whitewashes Ukrainian Nazis
Mainstream media are doing their best to rebrand the Azov Battalion.
The Washington Post this week published a shocking apologia for the Azov Battalion.
Azov is the Ukrainian government’s most stridently Nazi military brigade. It has been fighting on the frontlines of Ukraine’s war against Russian separatists in the east since 2014.
The article was only the latest in a long line of mainstream Western media coverage which has attempted all sorts of dishonest propaganda tricks to whitewash Azov. Such coverage has escalated since the Russian invasion last year, which triggered even higher levels of US, UK and other European military backing for Ukraine.
In May 2022 The Times of London published a highly misleading story in which they claimed that Azov had “removed” its Nazi symbol, the wolfsangel, from its uniforms.
The wolfsangel is a common far-right symbol associated with a division of the German army during Hitler’s Nazi regime.
The article turned out to be almost completely bogus: Azov has carried on openly using the symbol on most of its uniforms and flags and in all its online propaganda since then.
This week’s Washington Post article carried on the “reporting” in the same dishonest vein.
It reads like a puff piece for Azov, a blatant attempt to whitewash their far-right image. Another aim seems to be driving recruitment for Azov, which is seeking new fighters to reverse combat losses sustained after the Russian military decimated the brigade.
Around 1,000 Azov fighters were captured after the siege of Mariupol last year ended with Russian victory. Ukraine, the Post opines, is aiming to prove it is “worthy of support from outside backers who have poured billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry into the fight.”
Azov, the Post claims, is “hailed by Ukrainians for its tenacity during Russia’s siege of Mariupol” and is “hoping to recruit 6,500 new fighters who will provide restored combat heft.”
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In Mariupol, the Post gushes, “Azov fighters held out for weeks” against Russia. They “persisted” despite the “massive Russian bombing campaign, which elevated Azov and other Mariupol defenders to what Ukraine’s military command called ‘heroes of our time.’”
Tenacity, heft, persistence, “heroes” — The Washington Post can certainly find a lot of positive words for Nazis, as long as those Nazis are backed by the US government.
After 200 words of such fluff, the Post embarks on a strident defence of the battalion over “the controversy surrounding Azov’s far-right roots,” which the journalists stress, its leaders are “seeking to move past.”
I’m sure they are, if such “controversy” ever endangers their Western backing.
According to the Post, allegedly summarising bridge leaders, “The newest recruits are drawn to Azov not for the ultranationalist ideology of its origins but for its proven combat skill.”
Azov began as a gang of street thugs who formed part of the far-right vanguard of the 2014 “Maidan” coup. The coup, which was backed by the CIA, overthrew the elected, neutral, government of Ukraine and replaced it with a US-chosen government which was pro-NATO, pro-EU and hostile towards Russia.
Yet an anonymous US State Department spokesperson uncritically quoted by the Post assures us — without evidence — that Azov is today “a different unit” from the group which was once banned by law from receiving direct US aid.
This seems to be an artificial attempt to protect the US funding and weapons that end up in Azov hands as “legal.”
The reality is that Azov is still Azov
Such attempts are based on false State Department claims that the original Azov “militia group” no longer exists, or that the Azov Battalion which is today a leading part of the Ukrainian army is somehow entirely separate from the wider far-right Azov movement (which includes its fascist publisher, its violent street militia and its political party).
Despite such obfuscations, the reality is that Azov is still Azov. The only thing about it that has really changed since 2014 is that it received official Ukrainian government endorsement by being integrated into the National Guard.
Azov has never removed or disavowed its Nazi iconography. Nor has it disavowed its founder and political leader Andriy Biletsky.
Biletsky has written that Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans]”.
In a disingenuous Azov statement to CNN last year, they claimed to “have nothing to do with [Biletsky’s] political activities” (while even in the same sentence saying it “appreciates and respects Andriy Biletsky as the regiment’s founder and first commander”).
But the far-right group’s public activities in Ukraine have shown the idea that they have nothing to do with Biletsky’s political activities to be untrue.
In October, Azov held a dedication ceremony of a Kiev street to the “Heroes of Azov.” The ceremony was led by Biletsky himself, who is the leader of Azov’s political wing.
And who was standing next to Biletsky? None other than Bohdan Krotevych, currently the acting commander of the Azov Battalion and the star of the Post’s puff piece.
“Krotevych said the unit has no political ambitions and conducts investigations into any cases of far-right extremism it identifies,” the Post claims.
Krotevych should start such “investigations” with himself and his colleague Biletsky.
Azov’s officer training academy in Kiev is still named after Yevhen Konovalets, founder of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, an anti-communist group which later helped Hitler carry out the Holocaust in Ukraine.
OUN’s war-era leader Stephan Bandera — a Nazi collaborator — is widely venerated in Ukraine today, and even praised by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Clearly there is a lot of double-speak and dissembling going on here (something fascists have a long history of doing).
Both the Times and the Post seem to have been acting on disinformation fed to them by Western intelligence agencies, who are keen to launder the image of a leading Ukrainian fighting unit.
Tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons and funding have been flowing to Ukraine’s armed forces from US coffers, with very little oversight.
UK weapons and training were proven by Declassified UK last year to have gone directly to the Azov Battalion.
Asked at a public hearing in February by a Republican lawmaker if Azov is getting access to US weapons, Pentagon official Colin H. Kahl dodged the question: “Not that I’m aware of … I don’t have any evidence one way or the other.”
Kahl distracted from the question by attacking the questioner (Florida representative Matt Gaetz) for quoting a Chinese news report. And pretty much the entire mainstream media piled in, praising the Pentagon official and conveniently ignoring the actual facts of the question.
Despite a US law on the books technically banning military aid to Azov, its official status as the leading component of Ukraine’s National Guard, means that any conception of a separation between Azov and the rest of Ukraine’s army seems utterly meaningless.
Indeed, the Post article says that Azov “recently absorbed other elements of the country’s National Guard.”
It seems that the National Guard is Azov and Azov is the National Guard.
The US has never had a problem with fascism or fascists, so it's zero surprise that the American establishment, including the media, is pro-Azov.
This is no suprise...The US and its lackey, NATO's proxy war against Russia must continue....so whitwashing Ukrainian Nazis is part of the propaganda the media pump out to make the Nazis sound clean...