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Ukraine's Azov Brigade Sends Direct Message to US After Arms Ban Lifted

Ukraine's Azov Brigade Sends Direct Message to US After Arms Ban Lifted
Ukraine's Azov Brigade Sends Direct Message to US After Arms Ban Lifted

 


Ukraine's Azov Brigade will “prove the effectiveness” of the US decision to lift a long-standing ban on supplying weapons to the unit, according to the brigade commander.

“We will justify the responsibility entrusted to us and, thanks to our discipline, resilience and courage in combat, we will prove the effectiveness of this decision,” Colonel Denys Prokopenko said in a statement posted on social media on Saturday .

Earlier this week, the US State Department reversed a 2014 decision to block the Ukrainian brigade from receiving US weapons.

This decision comes as Ukraine, despite a number of successes in the Black Sea against Moscow's naval fleet, is struggling to curb Russia's gradual but steady advances in eastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian soldier from Azov in a dugout on February 24, 2023, in Donetsk region, Ukraine. Ukraine's Azov Brigade will “prove the effectiveness” of the US decision to lift a long-standing ban on supplying weapons to… A Ukrainian Azov soldier in a dugout on February 24, 2023, in Donetsk region, Ukraine. Ukraine's Azov Brigade will “prove the effectiveness” of the US decision to lift a long-standing ban on supplying weapons to the unit, according to the brigade commander. More from Libkos/Getty Images

As Washington's military aid dried up earlier this year, deep concerns mounted over the supply of arms and munitions to Ukraine's front lines. The United States then adopted a long-awaited military aid plan at the end of April.

The Azov Brigade emerged from the Azov Volunteer Battalion, with its roots in far-right and ultranationalist ideology. The fighters were on the front lines against pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine starting in 2014; the battalion's founders were accused of having neo-Nazi sentiments.

Current members of the brigade have rejected these links, distancing themselves from the battalion's reputation since the outbreak of a full-scale war in Ukraine in February 2022. The brigade is now part of the Ukrainian National Guard and has been hailed as one of the most effective forces. fighting forces, particularly known for its role in fighting Russian forces in the Moscow-controlled southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

The Kremlin repeatedly tried to justify its invasion by claiming that a “neo-Nazi regime” was in power in kyiv. This was categorically rejected by Ukraine and the international community.

“Such a sudden change in Washington's positions shows that Washington will stop at nothing in its attempts to suppress Russia, using Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as a tool in their hands,” the Kremlin spokesperson said , Dmitry Peskov, in remarks referring to the State Department's decision. , as Russian state media reported earlier this week. The United States is “even ready to flirt with neo-Nazis,” he added.

“I would like to congratulate all the soldiers of the 12th Azov Special Forces Brigade and the entire civilized world on their victory over Russian propaganda,” Prokopenko said on Saturday.

An anonymous State Department spokesperson told the BBC that “Russian disinformation” had attempted to “confuse” the current Azov Brigade with “a militia formed to defend Ukraine against the Russian invasion in 2014.” , or the Azov battalion.

Under the US “Leahy Act”, the Washington government cannot use funds to aid foreign security forces when there is “credible information” suggesting the unit has committed serious human rights abuses. 'man.

“Eligibility for U.S. assistance will not only increase Azov’s combat effectiveness, but, more importantly, help save the lives and health of the brigade’s personnel,” the brigade said in a statement Tuesday .

“This is a new page in the history of our unit,” adds the unit. “Azov becomes more professional and more effective in defending Ukraine against invaders.”

The Azov Brigade has not yet received American weapons, Azov deputy commander Lt. Col. Sviatoslav Palamar told the Washington Post on Tuesday.

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