We have been told ever since 2013 that the claims of neo-nazi presence in Ukraine is overblown, and part of Kremlin hybrid warfare information campaign to discredit the Maidan regime…
But what do we have here? Bellingcat finds Nazis in Ukraine because the latter have been building contacts with ideologically similar individuals in the West.
Bellingcat has confirmed that in January 2016, Azov, via its online podcast, was in contact with the late Andrew Oneschuk, an imminent member of the violent American neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen Division. On Azov’s podcast, Oneschuk discussed issues facing Americans that wanted to join Azov, and expressed interest in learning methods of attracting youth to nationalism in America. He was encouraged to try to join Azov.
In another previously unreported case from the autumn of 2018, the political wing of Azov, the National Corps, supported an effort by Joachim Furholm, a Norwegian citizen and self-described “national socialist revolutionary,” to bring American right-wingers to Ukraine to fight against Russian aggression. The effort specifically framed participation in Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression as an opportunity for American right-wingers to acquire combat and other practical experience to be deployed later within the United States after returning home. Furholm also spoke at a political rally held by the National Corps in front of Ukraine’s Parliament in September 2018.
Evidence uncovered by Bellingcat points to recent contacts between the National Corps and alleged former U.S. armed services members who are currently in Ukraine. In one instance, an alleged U.S. Army veteran named “Alex” made an appearance on an American white nationalist podcast to comment on the ease of joining the war in Ukraine. Also, an alleged U.S. Navy veteran, “Shawn Irwood,” is currently enlisted in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and maintains contact with the National Corps. Shawn had stated his intention to join the Azov Regiment online, and was linked to the aforementioned Joachim Furholm prior to arrival in Ukraine in early 2018.
The International Secretary of the National Corps, responsible for Azov’s global strategy, told Bellingcat that the movement sought “all potential sympathizers” and “potential lobbyists” in the U.S., and hoped to “establish contacts with the American military.”
Andreas Umland to the rescue with the trope about the low electoral support for Azov’s political ambitions. This is commonly used to create the illusion that the Ukrainian neonazis are anything important. I have discussed this argument before (I must say I am not very proud of that post). My explanation is as follows:
- Ukraine is a large country and you need large financial and human resources to score victory in the elections. The Azov leader, Biletskiy, is in the parliament as an independent.
- The major parties, and the general public in Ukraine, seem very accepting of the Ukrainian nationalist programme. That is Derussification and the Bandera cult.
- Many small nationalist parties may deprive each other of votes, and there are quite a few small nationalist outfits in Ukraine.