An unsealed FBI indictment has revealed that 4 American Neo-Nazis from the Rise Above Movement have trained with the Ukrainian Fascist Azov Battalion. The indictment noted that the Azov Battalion “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.”
This revelation has come soon after the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue by an armed anti-Semite assailant. It reveals a deep rooted problem of Fascism within the United States as the far right have become emboldened by world events.
The group known as the Rise Above Movement have participated in violent clashes against American based Antifa groups in Charlottesville and California. The 4 men have been charged for their actions in Charlottesville, which helped culminate in the murder of socialist organiser Heather Heyer.
The indictment found that the 4 Nazis had met with Olena Semanyaka, the leader of the international department of the Ukrainian National Corps, which functions as a civilian arm of the Azov Battalion. Azov became an active and influential far right militia following the events of Euromaiden in 2014 as Fascist organisers participated in the revolt. One such organiser Oleh Tyahnybok, who once demanded an investigation into an alleged “Jewish-Muscovite mafia” that controlled Ukraine, appeared on stage with deceased US senator John McCain who greeted protesters during the crisis. Likewise Andriy Biletsky, who led the forerunner to Azov, wrote that the events were part of “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
Recently, Congress has finally passed legislation that forbids the arming of Azov (it has previously allowed such funding for 3 years). Despite this, the Trump administrations 200 million dollar funding to the Ukrainian army will still likely see US arms in the hands of Neo-Nazis who dominate the front lines. When questioned whether these arms could find themselves to be acquired by Azov, US military officials admitted there was no mechanism in place to prevent that from happening. Ivan Katchanovski, a professor of political science at the University of Ottawa and expert on the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi movement has stated that “It’s very corrupt in Ukraine and money can be stolen — the same as in Syria where extremist fighters got guns from U.S.-backed units,”
Not content with arming the far right, the American establishment has sought ties with some of the most putrid figures of the Ukrainian Nazi scene. C14 gang leader Serhiy Bondar, who has participated in programs against Ukraine’s Roma population, was invited to speak at the government funded America House Kyiv. Likewise, the NATO and Republican Paul Ryan funded Atlantic Council invited the founder of the Social-Nationalist Party and Roma pogrom participant Andriy Parubiy for a meeting in Congress.
In order to justify this not so subtle armament of Neo-Nazis, the American media has attempted to whitewash clear far right activity in Ukraine. One pundit, James Kirchick, described the Ukrainian fighters as “Putin’s imaginary Nazis.” The justification for this armament comes about as America once again seeks to fight Russia via unstable proxy forces. In similar past circumstances the United States has funded anti-Soviet jihadists in Afghanistan including Osama Bin Laden, anti-communist military junta forces in El Salvador who infamously raped and killed 4 American nuns and now Neo-Nazi volunteers in Ukraine fighting Russian separatists.
All these cases have resulted in severe blow-back for the United States. America’s culpability for co-opting Fascist rhetoric and violence has resulted in nothing but destruction and will likely continue. The 4 men trained in Ukraine have used their skills to assault and bludgeon US citizens in Fascist riots. The extent of the damage potentiality caused by the funding of these, among other, far-right radicals in the US and in Europe remains to be fully seen.