Azov Battalion

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Group.png Azov Battalion  
(Ukrainian death squad)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Azov Battalion.png
The former Azov symbol. It resembles the emblem of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich.
Interest ofAndriy Biletsky, Adrien Bocquet, Sergey Korotkikh, Patrick Lancaster, Olena Semenyaka, Natalya Vovk, Maksym Zhorin
The not be talked about neo-nazi army battalion Ukraine used to fight against the Russian military in the Donbass and Ukraine. Its existence is highly talked down in western media, even though the UN accused them multiple times of war crimes, including electrocuting and raping men.

Azov Special Operations Detachment aka Azov Battalion (Азов) is a right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, based in Mariupol, in the Azov Sea coastal region. Local resident, reporter and former US Navy employee Patrick Lancaster has interviewed dozens of Ukrainian civilians accusing them of war crimes starting in 2014 until today, in particular in the Donbass region of Ukraine. A significant piece of the battalion was killed or captured in the siege of Mariupol in 2022.[1]

In October 2019, members of the US House of Representatives (following Canadian earlier precedents) from the Democratic Party requested that the Azov Battalion and two other far-right groups be classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US State Department.[2]


"In Ukraine, the far-right Azov militia is fighting on the frontline – and running a summer camp for children" - The Guardian, 5 September 2017

The Azov Battalion has its roots in a group of ultras of FC Metalist Kharkiv named "Sect 82" (1982 is the year of the founding of the group). "Sect 82" was (at least until September 2013) allied with FC Spartak Moscow ultras Late February 2014, during the 2014 Ukraine coup/Civil war "Sect 82" occupied the Kharkiv Oblast regional administration building in Kharkiv and was a local "self-defence force." Soon after, a company of the Special Tasks Patrol Police called "Eastern Corps" was formed on the basis of "Sect 82".

On 13 April 2014, Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov issued a decree authorizing the creation of new paramilitary forces of up to 12,000 people. Azov was started as one of the Ukrainian volunteer battalions of the Special Tasks Patrol Police regulated by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. According to some sources, it was led by Volodymyr Shpara, the leader of the Vasylkiv, Kyiv, branch of Patriot of Ukraine and another sketchy group named the Right Sector.

Many members of the political party Patriot of Ukraine joined the battalion. Among the early patrons of the battalion were Oleh Lyashko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, ultra-nationalist Dmytro Korchynsky, businessman Serhiy Taruta, and Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov. The battalion received training near Kyiv by instructors with experience in the Georgian Armed Forces. Members of the regiment come from 22 countries and are of various backgrounds. [3] Andriy Biletsky, who led the neo-Nazi Social-National Assembly and Patriot of Ukraine was their first leader.

A female soldier of the regular army in the upper left picture has a black sun symbol on her uniform,[4][5][6][7] together with other instances where the symbol has been observed,[8][9] it can leave room for speculation how prevalent the symbology and related thinking are in the Ukrainian army. NATO deletes the tweet later on.

It has used controversial symbols, including their logo, resembling a Wolfsangel, a pagan symbol which was also used by some WW2 German Military units,[10] like the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich.[11] The initial logo used from September 2014 till August 2015 had the black sun in the background, a symbol used among right-wing extremist.[12]

Western Ban

Although President Zelensky called the unit a normal section, the unit began to face scrutiny over the Atlantic for their "non-geneva-convention-like-tactics".

“In 2014, when the volunteer squads were defending the country, many of their appeals were quite radical against the Russian Federation. They were volunteers and it was their personal point of view. The Azov battalion are not volunteers, but are part of the National Guard. They are the official army of our state. Those who wanted to engage in politics - they were engaged in politics. Those who decided to be in the AFU, they became part of the AFU,”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy (May 2022)  [13]


A provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, passed by the United States Congress, blocked military aid to Azov due to its white supremacist ideology; in 2015, a similar ban had been overturned by Congress and "elements in The Pentagon".[14]


In 2018 a group of human rights activists in Israel filed a petition with the High Court of Justice, demanding the cessation of Israeli arms exports to Ukraine - saying that these weapons end up with groups that have been integrated with the military who openly espouse a neo-Nazi ideology.[15]

Canadian Ban

In June 2015, the Canadian defense minister declared that Canadian forces would not provide training or support to Azov Battalion.[16]

NATO training

The battalions own website shows a training exercise with NATO officers in 2017[17]

An American advisor to the Ukrainian military remarked that: "Since the latter end of 2018, [...] the West seems to be paying more attention to the Ukrainian conflict."[18]

NEXTA reported on 8 March 2022:[19][20][21]

"A shipment of NLAW grenade launchers and instructors from #NATO countries arrived in #Kharkiv. The Azov regiment was the first to learn about new weaponry"


Andriy Biletsky, was reported to have said in 2010 that "the historic mission of our nation was to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival […] a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen".[22]

German TV-Network ZDF showed Azov fighters wearing helmets with swastika symbols and SS runes of Hitler's infamous black-uniformed elite corps in 2014.[23]

In March 2015, a battalion spokesman told USA Today that around 10–20% of the unit were Nazis (in the same article another person interviewed said that: "no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis").[24] The group has been accused of antisemitism by various Western media outlets, which disappeared being part of the official narrative in 2022.[25] Interestingly, rich Jewish billionaire Igor Kolomoyskyi was an early big sponsor.[26]

Ukrainian affairs writer Lev Golinkin wrote in the The Nation that "Post-Maidan Ukraine is the world's only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces."[27] Michael Colborne of Bellingcat named Azov "a dangerous neo-Nazi-friendly extremist movement with global ambitions[28]", with a colleague mentioning "the far right in general significantly damaged Ukraine's international reputation creating a vulnerability to hostile narratives that exaggerate its role".

A picture taken from social media in the 2014/15 period.[29][30][31][32]

An investigative report for the German Bundestag found in April 2022 that:[33]

The existence of neo-Nazi, ultra-national and other inhuman tendencies, including anti-Semitism, within the "Azov Regiment" is indeed undeniable today, although the regiment, in the course of professionalization after 2014, has renounced many incriminated individuals and claims to have depoliticized itself. Yet as recently as 2018, the U.S. Congress, in pledging $520.7 million in aid to Ukraine, consequently decreed a targeted training and arms embargo against the "Azov Regiment" because of - according to Democratic Representative Ro Khanna of California - its neo-Nazi sentiments.


The Azov Battalion saw its first combat experience recapturing Mariupol from pro-Russian separatist forces in June 2014. Azov formally formed as a volunteer militia on 5 May 2014 during the Odessa clashes and was incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine on 12 November 2014.[34]

In 2017, the size of the Azov regiment was estimated at more than 2,500 members. In its early days, Azov was a special police company of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, led by Volodymyr Shpara, the leader of the Vasylkiv, Kyiv, branch of Patriot of Ukraine and Right Sector.

In 2016, veterans of the regiment and members of a non-governmental organization named "Azov Civil Corps" created the political party National Corps.[35]

In 2022, after their stronghold Mariupol was almost entirely captured, and several hundreds surrendered, the commanders were still hiding in the underground system of Mariupol's Azovstal plants, where they issued a statement on video calling those soldiers a "shame".[36]

War crimes

Sergey Korotkikh was the first foreign fighter to receive Ukrainian citizenship for services rendered fighting with the Azov batallion; with which he was "from the very beginning".[37] Here pictured with Petro Poroshenko during the ceremony. Korotkikh stands accused to have been participated in the killing and beheading of migrant workers in Russia in 2007.[38][39][40]

Azov was reported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to commit mass looting, unlawful detention, and torture in 2016.[41][42][43]

Male rape

Several other reports tell stories of Azov soldiers raping men, waterboarding another, electrocuting another and raping women and girls, with several men being placed in psychiatric hospitals.[44][45]

Bombing civilians

Patrick Lancaster has remained as one of the only non Ukrainians still reporting from the war zones where Azov was active in 2022, continuing work from the 2014 Ukraine coup/Civil war. In particular, the bombing and killing of civilians by Azov inside the Donbass appeared to continue as Lancaster's videos has shown, although very unreported in western media.[46]

Lancaster has reported about Ukrainian and Russian war crimes. The usage of false flags by both is telling and under-reported in western media. His reports paint a chaotic side of the war, with the Azov Battalion and Ukrainian army shooting at each other.[47]


From 2022, the Azov Battalion started put less emphasis on the neo-Nazi symbol in its insignia. At the unveiling of a new special forces unit in Kharkiv, patches handed to soldiers did not feature the wolfsangel, a medieval German symbol that was adopted by the Nazis and which has been used by the battalion since 2014. Instead, the group now featured a golden trident. [48] The change while ceremonially burning a Viking longboat.[49] The blogger Moon of Alabama has observed, how descriptions of the group have evolved in articles of the New York Times since 2019:[50]

  • Mar 15 2019: 'the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary organization.'
  • Feb 11 2020: 'Azov Battalion, which the F.B.I. calls “a paramilitary unit” notorious for its “association with neo-Nazi ideology,”'
  • Mar 17 2022: 'to allow praise for Ukraine’s far-right Azov Battalion military unit,'
  • Apr 29 2022: 'in recent days by the Azov regiment, a unit in the Ukrainian military,'


Bellingcat reported in 2019 that since 2015, the Azov movement has been systematically engaging with American (and others) right-wing extremists to advance their own agenda.[51]

External links


Related Quotations

Corriere della Sera“The atmosphere is permeated with partisan passion: people ready to die in order not to give up. They are the new models of this armed country, which is cultivating heroic myths to motivate the determination to keep fighting. Marginal and controversial until a few years ago, the Azov volunteers for many are now the example to follow, the inspiration for recruits and volunteers. "Ukraine is our mother and Stepan Bandera is our father", they sing in the second verse, referring to the founding leader of their movement (murdered by a KGB agent in Berlin in 1959), accused by pro-Russians of having collaborated with Nazi Germany to fight the Soviets during the Second World War, and which is now being re-evaluated by the resistance as a patriot of free, unredeemed and democratic Ukraine.”Corriere della Sera
Lorenzo Cremonesi
5 May 2022
Patrick Lancaster“I mean I'm just I've been working here on this side of the contact line and the anti-Ukraine government territory so I've only been able to show what happened here, but what I've seen here with my own eyes is indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas year after year by Ukrainian forces. Indiscriminate and targeted in fact, just last month (..) two civilian electric plants targeted by Ukrainian forces. (...)

Now that the war is really hot attacks are coming in every hour, and I mean the only thing that's being shown in the west is the results of Russian attacks on Ukraine, but what the west isn't showing is every day here in Donetsk there is attacks from Ukraine controlled territory Ukraine attacking the civilian population here. In the last 12 days there has been 19 civilians killed.

I mean it's not a huge amount like across Ukraine right now but in the last 12 days in the Donetsk people's republic controlled territory there's been 19 civilians killed and I believe 27 injured and these are results of Ukrainian attacks on mostly civilian areas of course battle's been raging on the front line since this new development happened and even before, but so you know a lot of the shells are hitting civilian areas and I assume a lot are hitting military areas as well... Those aren't as free to report on as the other ones.”
Patrick Lancaster
Cyrus Janssen


Employee on Wikispooks

Olena SemenyakaHead of the International Outreach Office2019"a formidable power behind the throne"


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