Atlantic Council Praised Ukraine’s Nazi Azov Battalion

The Atlantic Council report was little more than a press release for Azov, written by a reporter who embedded inside the neo-Nazi militia, reports Ben Norton.

Ukraine Azov Battalion Nazi paramilitary Atlantic Council

Fighters in Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Battalion in 2014, in a photo published by the Atlantic Council (Flickr)

By Ben Norton  

The NATO military alliance’s de facto think tank, the Atlantic Council, promoted a notorious neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine, the Azov Battalion, in a 2014 article that depicted the fascist extremists as anti-Russian heroes.

The Atlantic Council is one of the most powerful think tanks in Washington. With funding from the U.S. State Department, numerous Western governments, NATO, and the weapons industry, it plays a key role in shaping U.S. foreign policy, particularly toward Russia.

The Atlantic Council published a report in June 2014 titled “The Battle For Mariupol.” It was little more than a press release for Azov, written by a reporter who embedded inside the neo-Nazi militia.

The article was posted in the think tank’s “New Atlanticist” blog. It identified the author, Askold Krushelnycky, simply as a “British journalist embedded with the Azov Battalion.”

Azov preaches a white supremacist Nazi ideology that portrays Ukrainians as a pure white race fighting “Asiatic” Russians in a war to maintain racial purity. The battalion uses explicit Nazi symbols, including the German Wolfsangel and Black Sun.

Azov Ukraine Nazi symbol

The Nazi symbols used by Ukraine’s Azov Battalion

The Atlantic Council article mentioned nothing at all about Azov’s fascist politics.

Reporting on a battle between Ukrainian Russian-speaking independence supporters and far-right Azov extremists over the southeastern city of Mariupol, the article called it “a good piece of news for Ukraine’s government” that the Nazi militias won in combat.

In order to defeat these Ukrainian Russian-speaking independence fighters, the Western-backed government in Kiev essentially relied on local fascist gangs hired by wealthy oligarchs.

The Atlantic Council euphemistically described these as “local or provincial-level Ukrainian battalions that have been raised, often by pro-Kyiv business magnates, to fill a gap created by the uneven performance of Ukraine’s national military.”

After a 2014 U.S.-sponsored coup d’etat in Ukraine, in which far-right extremist groups played a leading role, Azov was officially incorporated into the country’s National Guard.

The author of the report, Krushelnycky, published a photo of a makeshift armored vehicle used by the Nazi militia, which he said “looked like one of the vehicles from the Mad Max films.”

The Atlantic Council shared this photo on its official Flickr account, with a Creative Commons license that allows for free republication.

atlantic council flickr azov 5

On Flickr, the Atlantic Council created a special album specifically for the photos of the Ukrainian Nazis. (The album is archived here, and the specific photos are archived here, in case the think tank deletes them.) All of the photos were released under the Creative Commons license.

atlantic council flickr azov 1

atlantic council flickr azov 3

atlantic council flickr azov 4

atlantic council flickr azov 2

The Atlantic Council even published two photos (archived here) of prisoners taken by the Ukrainian Nazis, describing them as “captured separatist militants.”

Atlantic Council Flickr Azov separatist prisoners 1

The NATO think tank added that one of the Azov prisoners “wears an orange-and-black band on his left wrist, which identifies him as pro-Russian.”

Atlantic Council Flickr Azov separatist prisoners 2

Anti-Russia critics have often claimed that the accusation that Ukraine’s Western-backed government is infiltrated by neo-Nazis and far-right extremists is “Russian propaganda.”

Yet in 2018, the Atlantic Council itself admitted this undeniable fact, in an article titled “Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, RT Didn’t Write This Headline).”

The post reported that Ukraine’s Ministry of Youth and Sports gave funding to the neo-Nazi group C14 to promote “national patriotic education projects.” C14 has launched brutal attacks on the Roma and LGBTQ communities.

It also cited mainstream human rights organization Amnesty International, which warned that “Ukraine is sinking into a chaos of uncontrolled violence posed by radical groups and their total impunity.”

Atlantic Council Ukraine far right Nazis

When some U.S. lawmakers launched a campaign to try to get Azov listed as a terrorist organization, due to its close links to violent white-supremacist fascist groups inside the United States, the Atlantic Council pushed back.

In 2020, the NATO think tank published an article titled “Why Azov should not be designated a foreign terrorist organization,” written by anti-Russia researcher Anton Shekhovtsov.

The post admitted that it is “indisputable” that Azov’s ideology is rooted in Nazism, and the “leading core of” it “was formed by the far right.” But Shekhovtsov argued that Azov must not be designated a terrorist organization because it is a special operations detachment of the Ukrainian National Guard, and therefore “an integral part of official structures” of the state, following “orders given by the Interior Ministry.”

Labeling this Ukrainian government-sponsored Nazi group a terrorist organization would be a “gift to the Kremlin,” Shekhovtsov insisted.

Atlantic Council Azov Ukraine Nazi terrorist

Back in 2014, the Atlantic Council was heroizing these very same Nazis.

The author of the “The Battle For Mariupol” report, Askold Krushelnycky, acknowledged that the pro-Kiev/Western side consisted of roughly 400 fighters, half of whom were Azov Nazis, with the rest comprised of soldiers from Ukraine’s army, national guard, and volunteer units, led by a Ukrainian army general.

Krushelnycky noted that some of these Azov extremists had also fought alongside Georgians and Chechens in their previous wars against Russia.

The Atlantic Council article implicitly admitted that these Nazis played a key role as the muscle behind the violent U.S.-sponsored coup in Ukraine in 2014. Krushelnycky wrote:

Many of the [Azov] battalion’s members took part in the months of mass demonstrations against their former pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, after he reneged on his promise to bring his country closer to the European Union and instead sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some of those now in the battalion were the persons who transformed the passionate protests into revolution and were in the forefront of street battles against Yanukovych’s brutal security forces.

The “Battle For Mariupol” report makes absolutely no mention of Azov’s fascist ideology.

The closest it comes to disclosing Azov’s extremist politics is one sentence: “The battalion has had political support from hardline Ukrainian nationalists such as Oleh Lyashko, a parliament member from the Radical Party who won 8 percent of votes in last month’s presidential election.”

Krushelnycky described Oleh Lyashko merely as a “nationalist politician.” In reality, he is a notorious right-wing extremist.

Even more deceptively, the Atlantic Council report mentioned the leader of Azov, Andriy Biletsky, but did not say anything about his fascist ideology.

Biletsky helped found two different neo-Nazi groups, the Social-National Assembly and Patriot of Ukraine, both of which use the German Wolfsangel symbol.

Just a few months after the Atlantic Council published this article whitewashing and praising a neo-Nazi militia, the NATO think tank held a special event with Ukraine’s Western-backed president, Petro Poroshenko. 

Poroshenko, a billionaire oligarch known as the “chocolate king,” is infamous for his ties to far-right extremists as well. One of his advisors wrote a neo-Nazi symbol on Facebook that combines a white supremacist slogan with “Heil Hitler.”

Poroshenko also posed for a photo op with a soldier wearing a Nazi symbol, and even shared a historical photo of German Nazis marching Jews to a death camp and falsely blamed it on the Soviet Union.In September 2014, Poroshenko was personally given an award by the Atlantic Council’s president and CEO, Fred Kempe; the NATO think tank’s chairman, Jon Huntsman; and the U.S. chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez. They were rewarding Poroshenko for his aggressive pro-Western and anti-Russian policies.

Atlantic Council Flickr Ukraine Petro Poroshenko

11 comments for “Atlantic Council Praised Ukraine’s Nazi Azov Battalion

  1. Willow
    March 1, 2022 at 05:10

    Since the West has imposed crushing economic sanctions on Russia, Putin is justified by turning off the gas in response. The sooner Putin uses this retaliatory fuel embargo, the sooner the war will end. Russia can sell its gas to China and India.

    • Realist
      March 1, 2022 at 14:21

      I should think that Russia would be justified in taking a great many other actions to counter the extreme overkill that Washington is directing against her.

      If somebody breaks into your house and starts stealing your property, especially the essentials of life or threatening your family, you are generally recognised as entitled to protect your property and other threatened interests by using force if necessary, even lethal force if that is required.

      Washington should not try to kid itself and the world, economic warfare still entails acts of war, many of which may well be lethal to the targeted victim. Self defense is allowed. Self defense may entail taking or destroying American property in turn, especially military assets such as ships, planes and missile batteries to name a few. Or why not bank buildings or centers of manufacturing? America has never refrained from targeting such venues.

      In my mind, it would not be any more immoral than America’s actions for Russia to, let us say, phone Joe Biden and tell him, “nice aircraft carrier you’ve got at such and such coordinates, would be a shame if it sank to the bottom of the ocean. Stop arming Ukraine and impudently stealing our property including our cash reserves and other financial accounts.”

      There are an entire array of other weapons that Russia could justifiably deploy (that all of us American citizens would regret) such as cyber warfare, EMP pulses to permanently crash our power grid or shooting down our satellites critical to both military (surveillance, maybe weaponry) and civilian (weather satellites, media transmission, etc) uses. Uncle Joe and his mentor Barack Obomber have themselves threatened Russia with such acts in retaliation for imaginary transgressions such as “stealing our election for Donald Trump” (while we actually do shamelessly steal Germany’s energy sources purchased from Russia). Again, I question whether Uncle Joe and his neocon minions have thought through the consequences of a scorched earth war such as they seem to be prosecuting by proxy. Actions have consequences. Insane actions may win you or your country first place in the Darwin Awards. America is not so “nice” and “exceptional” that it cannot be administered a dose of its own medicine. America exhibits the most bizarre thought processes on this planet.

      • Kmthin
        March 4, 2022 at 22:57

        USA killing two birds with one stone:
        – The stone being stoking the fire
        A. The gains being to bring the European countries to be United under US control
        B. To weaken the European economy n their companies that will not pose a challenge to its own.
        The FOOLS in this case are the European politicians who cannot see through the US game plan.

  2. Tristan Patterson
    February 28, 2022 at 21:44

    Great article Ben, muchas gracias.

  3. February 28, 2022 at 21:44

    Here’s the link


  4. Frank Lambert
    February 28, 2022 at 18:05

    Yes, so true!

    It is Russia and I hope China, supporting Russia with troops, supplies and whatever, defeating the Atlantic Council, a bogus title if there ever was one. A front group for Wall Street, the City of London, and Brussels.

    Ben Norton is to be commended for his fine reporting and honesty about the financial vultures with their sanctions on anybody or any nation they can’t control.

    The end of civilization is we know it seems very close. As Albert Einstein said decades ago about a third world war, not knowing what kind of weapons would be used, but the one after that would be with sticks and stones. Sorry, if I quote the professor wrong in his description.

    After the Soviet Union broke up, we were supposed to get a “peace dividend” check in the mail, as our (in the U.S.) budget for the war machine would be at least cut in half. Instead, we invaded and occupied and bombed more countries who couldn’t defend themselves against the most warlike country in the world. Shame on Uncle Sam and the puppet vassal governments in Europe, ready to engage in a nuclear holocaust. They represent the anti-Christ, which has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with greed, selfishness, and exorbitant usury by the “international bankers” who pull their strings. Very sad! And scary!

  5. Paine
    February 28, 2022 at 16:39

    It’s regrettable that the US decided to back and send arms to Ukraine before the Russian invasion. As Ukraine has among it’s military units the 7,000 strong Azov battalion that wears nazi insignia’s on their military uniforms and helmets.

    Also “, not widely know. In the US, is that the western part of the Ukraine is composed of ultra-nationalists who’s elders supported and fought alongside the German Nazis in WW I1 against both the US and Russia.

    Our mainstream press has by and large hidden such facts from the American public.

    There’s a bigger stake here that goes way beyond Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that is receiving hardly any any attention nor discourse.

    It’s the US policy shift from protecting it’s citizenry by entering the nuclear arm treaties with the Russians in hope of reducing the mutual nuclear arsenals of both Countries.

    As in recent years, the US has adopted the insane policy of having the US withdraw from nuclear arm treaties, and instead implementing policies that vastly increase the number of nuclear weapons, move them forward to Russia’s border and apparently into space as well.

    At the same time the US has also withdrawn from the anti-ballistic treaty with Russia which prohibited defensive weapons, to now letting each country develop their own defensive systems against nukes. Such sets up the unrealistic possibility that the US may be able to develop a first-strike capability against the other.

    These policies pushed forward by military contractors is what President Eisenhower warned about as he was leaving office.

    Such policies have shortened the doomsday clock ticking and considerably placed American lives in more jeopardy than ever before.

    WhenRussia placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, the perfect solution was the one reached when the U.S. agreed to withdraw nukes from Turkey in exchange for Russia agreeing to withdraw nukes from Cuba that were aimed at the US.

    It was equally right from Russia to demand that there be no nukes nor offensive weapons placed in Ukraine by the US directed at them and for European countries and Russia to withdraw offensive weapons and nukes from their respective borders.

    But the US tacitly rejected Russia’s written proposals by not addressing them in writing. It’s because the US doesn’t want there to be a mutual security for both Europe and Russia as France’s President Macron has recognized is necessary.

    The press says that NATO is moving more weapons closer to the Russian border. If Russia topples the Ukrainian government, Europe not know this will likely result if Russia placing nukes in both Ukraine and Russia that are closer to both countries in Europe? This result will only be broken by all parties seeking a new course-one started by President Kennedy.

    Both sides would have been wiser avoiding this conflict following the path that was agreed upon to resolve the Cuban missile crisis.

    Clearly, Biden had to know that. Why has he chosen the path he has? Is he banking on the Putin being rejected by the Russian people?

    The lives of American, European, Russian, and others throughout the world are now greatly imperiled by a reversal of sane nuclear policies pursued by both President Kennedy and President Reagan.

    Where are the US’s rational leaders?

  6. Realist
    February 28, 2022 at 15:54

    Now that Washington has succeeded in recruiting all of the European governments, all of Europe’s propaganda mavens, otherwise known as media, and approximately 85% of the American public to the side of these Nazis who pull Zelensky’s strings and command him to keep the war (let’s more accurately call it Washington’s war rather than Putin’s no win choice) going at all costs, what pray tell is the aftermath supposed to look like if Putin (the only semblance of cautious reason in this game) loses and these ruthless nutters win and become more powerful? Does Washington think that Russia, which was humiliated and steeped in poverty, chaos, turmoil, declining populations and shortened life expectancies for over a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union is simply going to resign itself to another extended replay of that? Preventing such a scenario is the point of these hostilities, is it not? Or will the wounded “bear” simply choose to employ its state of the art nuclear-tipped hypersonic missiles and bring the entire West down with itself? Has Washington really thought this through, that the best outcome is for Russia to lose, and to do so bigly? Years ago, Putin once remarked that without a Russia there is no point to the world. One of his functionaries repeated that mantra yesterday, as Western hopes rise that, in the absence of news and the flurry of negotiating with Zelensky, Putin’s armies are allegedly in trouble. I don’t think that Russia will allow what the Western brain trust seems to envisage as its fate. Getting its wish here may actually mean the ultimate demise of Washington and all of its NATO flunkies. I think from Putin’s perspective, if this is not Russia’s redemption, it will be the West’s biggest miscalculation in history. They can always WISH otherwise since they are such bold gamblers.

    • ken
      February 28, 2022 at 19:54

      Excellent article and good comment. Can’t say that I have ever been this disgusted with the USA’s deep state maneuvers or the gullibility of our population.

  7. robert e williamson jr
    February 28, 2022 at 14:30

    FYI note in last photo here that second from the left is Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat, left of him is Jon Huntsman, who apparently has never been a member of the US Congress but exhibits strong neocon tendencies.

    Hint, in by humble opinion, this is evidence of the slow con, per the Deep State being actively pursued by members of the US Congress.

    Great stuff Ben.

    • robert e williamson jr
      February 28, 2022 at 20:04

      Jon Huntsman is a republican, in my opinion just more of a problem for us of the anti-neocon bent.

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