Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

US lifts weapons ban on Ukraine’s Azov Brigade

The US State Department lifts the ban on military aid to Ukraine’s Azov Brigade, previously barred due to neo-Nazi allegations, after finding no evidence of human rights violations, allowing them equal access to US military assistance.
us lifts weapons ban ukraine's azov brigade ukrainian national guard's soldiers azovorgua battlefield 1
Ukrainian National Guard’s Azov Brigade soldiers. Photo:
US lifts weapons ban on Ukraine’s Azov Brigade

The Biden administration will allow a Ukrainian National Guard’s unit, Azov Brigade, to use US weapons, the State Department said on 10 June, having lifted a ban imposed years ago amid concerns in Washington about the group’s origins, The Washington Post reports.

The Azov Brigade, recognized for its determined yet ultimately unsuccessful defense of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol during the early stages of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, is considered a highly effective combat unit. At the end of the siege of Mariupol, Ukraine ordered the remaining troops in the steel factory to surrender to Russian forces for survival, leaving over 900 in captivity as of early May this year.

Back, in 2015, the US House passed an amendment barring Azov from using the US arms, based solely on media reports labelling Azov as a “neo-Nazi” and “fascist” unit. The image of a “Nazi unit” was amplified internationally by Russian propaganda outlets and was even used by Russia to justify its full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the claims that Ukraine allegedly needs to be “denazified.”

Now absorbed into the Ukrainian National Guard as a formal unit since 2015, the brigade, originally a volunteer militia, will have access to the same US military assistance as any other unit.

“We fight real Nazis of today”: Azov commander slams US weapons ban in plea for aid

After thorough review, Ukraine’s 12th Special Forces Azov Brigade passed Leahy vetting as carried out by the US Department of State,” the agency said in a statement, referring to the “Leahy Law” that prevents US military assistance from going to foreign units credibly found to have committed major human rights violations. The State Department found “no evidence” of such violations, its statement says.

Lifting the ban had been a top priority for Ukrainian officials, who argue that the brigade could have defended Azovstal more effectively in 2022 with access to US equipment. Additionally, members of the brigade were also prohibited from participating in training sessions organized by the US military.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has frequently cited the racist and ultranationalist allegations against the Azov Battalion to support his claim that Ukrainian fighters and their leaders in Kyiv are neo-Nazis. The shift in US policy is likely to reignite those Russian critiques, the Washington Post notes.

Read also:

You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Will the West continue to support Ukraine?
    • Know what moves the world.
    • Stay informed with Kompreno.
    • Get quality journalism from across Europe.
    Special discount
    for Euromaidan Press readers
    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!

    Related Posts