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Biden Administration Allows Military Aid to Ukraine’s Azov Brigade

State of the Union: The group had been barred from receiving American aid for its human rights abuses and neo-Nazi ties.
Credit: Seneline

A State Department spokesman on Monday stated that Ukraine’s infamous Azov Brigade will now be eligible to receive military aid, claiming that Ukraine’s current Azov Brigade is structurally distinct from its past iterations as a National Guard unit formed from a ultranationalist militia with neo-Nazi elements. 

Azov, despite being a unit of Ukraine’s National Guard, had long been banned from receiving U.S. aid under the “Leahy Law,” which prohibits military aid from going to foreign units credibly accused of human rights abuses. 


The unit had many ties with various neo-Nazi and ultranationalist groups. Its founder, Andriy Biletsky, had in the past publicly stated that he believed that the “mission” of the Ukrainian nation was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade…against Semite-led Untermenschen.” Azov also actively recruited white supremacists from outside Ukraine to fight for it. 

Azov’s Nazi ties have led Congress to explicitly list the unit as ineligible for aid, as recently as in the 2022 Defense Appropriations. 

During the siege of Mariupol, the Azov brigade became famous in Ukraine for its defense of the city, though over 900 of its fighters ended up surrendering to the Russians. After their capture, 22 of the brigade’s members were put on trial for terrorism charges. As the fighters of the brigade captured in Mariupol are still held as POWs by Russia, “Free Azov” has become a common slogan for pro-war and pro-government demonstrations in Kiev.

Russia has responded to the Biden administration’s move by stating that Washington is “flirting with Neo-Nazis.” 

This is not the first instance of the closeness between America’s liberal Atlanticists and Azov. Obama’s ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, gave a speech in 2023 in front of Azov’s SS-derived Wolfsangel logo alongside members of the unit at Stanford University.