The change in insignia isn’t being made to correct a misperception, it’s being made to obscure a correct perception.
By Caitlin Johnstone
British empire rag The Times has an article out titled “Azov Battalion drops neo-Nazi symbol exploited by Russian propagandists,” which has got to be the most hilarious headline of 2022 so far (and I’m including The Onion and other intentionally funny headlines in the running).
“The Azov Battalion has removed a neo-Nazi symbol from its insignia that has helped perpetuate Russian propaganda about Ukraine being in the grip of far-right nationalism,” The Times informs us. “At the unveiling of a new special forces unit in Kharkiv, patches handed to soldiers did not feature the wolfsangel, a medieval German symbol that was adopted by the Nazis and which has been used by the battalion since 2014. Instead, they featured a golden trident, the Ukrainian national symbol worn by other regiments.”
Yeah that’s how you solve Ukraine’s Nazi problem. A logo change.
BREAKING: Ukrainian Nazis are getting rid of their SS symbols to stop evil propagandists in one of the smartest marketing moves ever. The Times headline tells how much Western oligarchs support fascists. ??? pic.twitter.com/ITV7TFWA6F
— taseenov (@taseenb) May 30, 2022
Claiming it’s “Russian propaganda” to say the Azov Battalion uses neo-Nazi insignia, and is ideologically neo-Nazi, is itself propaganda. A month ago Moon of Alabama published an incomplete list of the many mainstream western outlets who have described various Ukrainian paramilitaries as such, so if it’s only “Russian propagandists” who’ve been saying the Azov Battalion is neo-Nazi then Silicon Valley social media platforms should immediately ban outlets like NBC News, the BBC, The Guardian, and Reuters.
Before this war started this past February it wasn’t seriously controversial to say that Ukraine has a Nazi problem except in the very most virulent of empire spinmeister echo chambers. Even in the early days of the conflict it was still happening with mainstream publications who hadn’t yet gotten the memo that history had been rewritten, like this NBC News article from March titled “Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real, even if Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim isn’t.”
Just as disturbing, neo-Nazis are part of some of Ukraine’s growing ranks of volunteer battalions. They are battle-hardened after waging some of the toughest street fighting against Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine following Putin’s Crimean invasion in 2014. One is the Azov Battalion, founded by an avowed white supremacist who claimed Ukraine’s national purpose was to rid the country of Jews and other inferior races. In 2018, the U.S. Congress stipulated that its aid to Ukraine couldn’t be used “to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.” Even so, Azov is now an official member of the Ukraine National Guard.
So plainly it is not “Russian propaganda” to highlight the established fact that there are neo-Nazi paramilitaries in Ukraine who are receiving weapons from the U.S. and its allies. The change in insignia isn’t being made to correct a misperception, it’s being made to obscure a correct perception.
The change in insignia is a rebranding to a more mainstream-friendly logo, very much like Aunt Jemima rebranding to Pearl Milling Company due to the Jim Crow racism the previous branding evoked. The primary difference is that the corporate executives of Pearl Milling probably aren’t still interested in turning America back into an apartheid state.
As journalist Alex Rubenstein noted on Twitter, al Qaeda in Syria went through a similar rebranding not long ago for the exact same reasons:
Azov is the new al-Qaeda in Syria: "We aren't al-Qaeda! We split from them. Sure, all of us are former members but our new group, Jaysh al-Zawahiri, isn't down with that sort of thing! We still fly the black flag but changed the words on it. Now please us send more weapons." https://t.co/coh8mZPNLQ
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) May 30, 2022
Indeed it is very normal for the U.S. and its allies to provide backing to fascistic extremists in order to advance imperial agendas, because those tend to be the armed factions in a given area who are willing to inflict the brutal acts of violence upon their countrymen necessary to facilitate those agendas.
From far right militias in Latin America to tyrannical jihadists in the Middle East, this pattern of backing murderous fascists and then having to manage public perception of their depravity has been going on a long time.
After the U.S. alliance began working with al Qaeda-aligned factions to push regime change Syria, it eventually became necessary for them to rebrand to appease public concerns about their image. When the U.S.-backed Contras were committing human rights atrocities in Nicaragua to stomp out the leftist Sandinistas, the Reagan administration was launching a massive perception management campaign to manipulate the way people see the situation.
In Ukraine, neo-Nazi paramilitaries just happen to have been the armed thugs who were depraved enough to do what the empire needed done on the ground. As Ukrainian-American peace activist
“The people in Donetsk and Luhansk were less lucky. The coup government dispatched the military to suppress their insurrections.
At first many Ukrainian soldiers refused to shoot at their own countrymen, in this civil war that their U.S.-backed government started.
Seeing the hesitation of the Ukrainian military, far-right groups (and the oligarchs that were backing them) formed so-called “territorial defense battalions,” with names like Azov, Aidar, Dnipro, Tornado, etc.
Much like in Latin America, where U.S.-backed death-squads kill left-wing politicians, socialists, and labor organizers, these Ukrainian fascist battalions were deployed to lead the offensive against the militias of Donetsk and Luhansk, killing Russian-speaking Ukrainians.”
Unlocked: Siding with Ukraine's far-right, US sabotaged Zelensky's historic mandate for peace, by @aaronjmate https://t.co/3rYOdIcob2
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) April 15, 2022
The fact that factions like the Azov Battalion have been the ones willing to get their hands dirty in Ukraine has been a major factor in their ability to shore up influence over the nation’s affairs far in excess of their numbers, a dynamic described in detail by The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal and Alex Rubenstein.
As noted by journalist Aaron Maté, when Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine these extremists openly threatened to lynch him if he worked to make peace with Russia as he had pledged to do.
And on that note, it’s another reminder that the U.S. could easily have prevented this entire war by simply giving Zelensky protection from those factions so that he could enact the peace mandate he’d been elected to enact. But of course the U.S. would never do such a thing, because the U.S. always wanted this war, and because the U.S. does not actually believe in democratic mandates, and because the U.S. does not actually oppose Nazism.
Which is why when concerns were raised about arming neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine, the only offer on the table was a logo change.
Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar onPatreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.
This article is from CaitlinJohnstone.com and re-published with permission.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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They can change the insignia, but the tattoos remain. Here is a link to a thoughtful article
about the longer, re-emergent historical vector :
The final episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation may still be, as so much of that series was, prophetic. Hopefully not !
(Spoiler — the crew of the Enterprise arrives on Earth after an extended mission, and finds that StarFleet High Command
is now a 24th century Nazi bureaucracy, complete with swastikas and salutes).
Last night (well, I live in the Far North, so it was broad daylight still) the Doomsday Plane, which has been doing exercises
in Interior Alaska airspace for the last two weeks, flew low right over my house. We are used to F-35’s and etc. screaming
overhead, but somehow this plane’s quiet flight was even more disturbing, I had never seen it before.
The Ukrainian NAZIs are the epicenter of a Global movement of Biden-supported ($40 billion most recently) White Supremacists:
Please encourage Caitlin to write more. I also think her latest venture into lyric writing (poetry) is very, very good.
Since this article first appeared in The Times, there is one inaccuracy that I have yet to see anyone mention. This is how the lead photo was captioned: “The new insignia features a golden trident, the Ukrainian national symbol worn by other regiments.”
Even a cursory look will show that this new symbol looks nothing like the official emblem of Ukraine. The “trizub” is derived from the personal crest of Vladimir the Great. By accounts I’ve seen, this was a highly stylized depiction of a falcon, diving in flight, with each ruler of the Rurikid clan making slight adaptations to make the crest their own.
In fact, there is at least one version of the old Azov patch that includes three elements: a Sonnenrad, a Wolfsangel, AND the official Trizub (located at the bottom of the shield). Coincidentally (I’m sure), the closest image I could locate of a crest depicting “three short swords directed upwards” was this one:
These guys promised never change their insignia, watch after 1:15min
The oft repeated mantra that Zelensky has Jewish roots so cannot be a Nazi is also being made to obscure a correct perception.