The Azov Regiment, considered by some to be neo-Nazi militants and by Ukrainian militants, was at the center of a propaganda war between Kiev and Moscow that justified the invasion with the aim of “reducing” Ukraine.
Pro-Russian social networks, such as the Twitter accounts of Russian embassies in Paris or London, accused the group of being “fascist” or “Nazi” and published evidence and comments about the alleged atrocities.
On March 10, the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavov, justified the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which shocked the entire world by the presence of “Azov battalion and other militants” in the building.
These speculations have been fueled by the battalion, which has since been formed in 2014 and then co-ordinated in national custody in charge of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry at the start of the war against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Founded by far-right activists, including Andrei Belitsky of the Ukrainian paramilitary organization Patriots, the army initially recruited volunteers and displayed symbols such as the “Wolfsangle”. [anjo do lobo, tradução literal em português]The SS is reminiscent of the German Nazis of the Das Reich sect.
“In 2014, the regiment actually had an extreme right-wing organization, but the regiment ‘lost’ its ideology and became a regular unit,” explains Andreas Umland, an expert at the Center for Research in Eastern Europe from Stockholm.
“Joins [ao Regimento Azov] They do not go there because of ideology, but because it has a reputation as a staunch war faction, ”he added.
Named the Sea of Azov, which bathes the port city of Mariupol, the formation made history in June 2014 by participating in the recapture of that strategic location from pro-Russian separatists.
Eight years later, in Mariupol, besieged by Russian forces, the same heroes still confront each other, where Vladimir Putin wants to achieve what he calls the first major victory of a “special military operation” that began more than a month ago. Before.
Moscow seeks to justify Ukraine’s “denationalization” and the Russian campaign has repeatedly called the country’s rulers President Volodymyr Zhelensky, “neo-Nazis” and “junkies”.
But the Azov Regiment did not lag behind in the war of communications, publishing several successful news releases via the social network Telegram, videotaping Russian tanks and accusing Moscow forces of being “real fascists.”
There will be 2,000 to 3,000 men in this category, according to an estimate by Viatcheslav Likhachev, an expert at the ZMINA Human Rights Center in Kiev, who demonstrates his ability to communicate and “recruit the best”.
The use of the symbol of fascism in Germany, which has persisted since its victory in Mariupol in 2014, has contributed to sowing confusion with this connection to the past.
But according to experts, in Ukraine, the symbol “does not have the meaning of a fascist symbol” and the elements of this regiment to the Ukrainians “heroic fighters like any other.”
“Hardcore explorer. Extreme communicator. Professional writer. General music practitioner. Prone to fits of apathy.”