By Maxim Nikolenko.
On May 16, 2017, a video was posted on the official YouTube channel of the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. The clip displays officers from militant organization meeting representatives from NATO. An arranged meeting was described to have been held at the military school, named after Yevhen Konovalets, who was known in the 20th century as leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a group responsible for the massacres of thousands of civilians during the Second World War.
The dark history of collaboration between OUN and the Third Reich, with its Waffen-SS, still hold value to the ideological heritage of modern ultra-right organizations.
These groups have gained an unprecedented influence following the Ukrainian revolution in 2014, where radicals were used as the main fighting force on Maidan Square.
Western governments had praised revolution, granting it favorable coverage in the media with diplomatic and “financial” backing. Victoria Nuland emphasized the movement holding “principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.” Supporting the political destabilization in favor of a new, fascist-leaning and pro-Western government, was worth investing “5 billion dollars” by the U.S.
Resulting consequences of these investments were reported with explicit selectivity. A horrific impoverishment of Ukrainians caused by the IMF austerity measures for loans, and a devastating trade war with Russia and a physical conflict in the industrial East, was not worth the news. An overall balkanization of Ukraine, amidst the succession of Crimea and rebellion for autonomy in Donbass, was merely attributed to Russia. The facts pointing to a historic and economic attachment of mainly “Russian-speaking” regions in the East, to Russia, were reversed or condemned artificial, serving proxy to Russia’s expansionist intentions. The proxy status of post-2014 government in Kiev to the Western powers was a silent norm, with its extremism and fascist leanings being irrelevant.
There was no need to hide the symbols of Azov in front of the NATO representatives. They were not troubled by them. An Azov official describes in the video how representatives were given consensus on “structure” of the battalion. Their aim was “improving Azov for implementation of military tasks.”
Azov, along with Aidar, Dnipro and few other far-right battalions are relatively small in size. They act autonomously from the underfunded and poorly equipped divisions of Ukrainian army, yet they are formally incorporated into the National Guard. Perhaps, the neo-Nazi Azov can be considered an elite unit of that National Guard, holding close links with Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov. The battalion’s leader, Andriy Biletsky, had been upgraded into a member of parliament. His platform for Social Nationalism”, had manifested the need for “racial cleaning of the nation.”
Petro Poroshenko had personally praised Azov: “I see you as the real protectors.”
Long before NATO representatives had visited Azov, the Minister of Internal Affairs had speculated that American troops will be training the nationalist units. Since 2014, NATO members, including the U.S. and Canada, have sent hundreds of military advisers to western provinces to train the units of Ukrainian army. Well-armed, with backing from high officials within the government and certain business elites, fascist units were proven to have been receiving training from those military advisers. A braggadocios video on Azov’s YouTube channel only reaffirms the already existing cooperation.
Without mentioning numerous policies that appease the interests of fascist groups, a structural alliance between the Ukrainian government and fascist radicals is vivid. That alliance is already visible in prioritization of fascist battalions over the main ranks of poorly trained Ukrainian army. Meanwhile, the West is providing support to Kiev, while demonstrating silence on the fascist background of its client.
While the corporate liberal media has been demonizing far-right groups in Europe and America, they become neutral, even sympathetic, when meeting the open Nazis in Ukraine.
The report by CNN received a privilege to be uploaded on the official channel of Azov Battalion.
Considering a humble state of reporting on the influence of fascist elements, few infrequent articles raise little concern.
Liberal The Guardian had attributed a sizable article on “The women fighting on the frontline in Ukraine.”
In article consisting of over 1655 words, the author at least managed to place some reference, in the first paragraph, on the fascist background of Aidar battalion. Little of what remains provides a clue, except from an image of a female fighter standing alongside a van exhibiting “1488” symbol.
The liberal VICE News had spent considerable time on the frontline with fighters of Azov. In a multi-dispatch series covering the conflict, VICE had filmed President Poroshenko awarding and honoring Azov Battalion. No challenging questions were asked.
A news outlet known in America for opposing the mainstream conservative narratives, and investigating the white supremacist movements, has done piddling job investigating Nazis in Ukraine. VICE correspondent Simon Ostrovsky, had numerously been embedded with Azov fighters. Little reference was made about their ideology, never mind a proper investigation into political connection the group retains. While traveling with Azov, Simon described them as “pretty much the only regiment that has been taking land.” The ideological aspect was reverberated as “unhealthy obsession with German history.”
Imagine a similar narrative being made by this liberal news outlet on Richard Spencer and the Alt-Right in America.
In the end, the true enemy is Russia. Ukrainians are conveyed to a Western viewer to be fighting for freedom against the shadow of Russia and the Soviet past. Fighting a war few could predict just 4 years ago. The reality of new Ukraine under pro-Western government is irrelevant. The ludicrous nature of a conflict itself is long forgotten. American and European advisers continue training Ukrainian soldiers to combat their brothers in Donbass, while Kiev slides ever deeper into the fascist hands. A separate editorial piece is required to reveal the pattern of this spiral.
In the meantime, Foreign Policy magazine had published a gallery of photos that depict prospects for the future Azov recruits. A summer camp for teenagers and kids who learn an underground radical ideology which has been emboldened mainstream.