Did you know about existing ban on the Western weapons transfer to the Azov Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine?

Did you know about existing ban on the Western weapons transfer to the Azov Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine?

Nonsense. This is the first word that comes to mind in the context of the existing ban on the transfer of Western weapons to the 12th Special Forces Azov Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine. Denys Prokopenko, Azov commander reveals.

Few people in Ukraine know about it, and almost no one speaks about it publicly. It's time to pay attention to this Kafkaesque situation and make it public.

From 2017 to the present, a number of US Consolidated Appropriations Acts (Appropriations bills) have contained the following amendment: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide weapons, training, or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.

In 2015, Congressman John Conyers Jr, a Democrat from Michigan, proposed this amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016. The congressman made the proposal, noting that Foreign Affairs magazine, as well as "other leading media outlets", had characterized the Azov battalion as "openly neo-Nazi" and "fascist".

According to media reports, the Department of Defense subsequently called for the proposed amendment to be withdrawn, arguing that aid to Azov should already be prohibited by the Leahy law, which states that "no assistance shall be provided to ... any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights." At the time, the ban on arms transfers to Azov was not included in the final law.

However, in 2017, this amendment was already included in the text of the Appropriations bill. It is also in this year's defense appropriations bill.

It is noteworthy that the Leahy law, which requires that incidents of human rights violations be reviewed on the basis of specific facts, was not applied to Azov, and the decision to adopt the amendment was primarily based on the characterization of Azov by Western media, which apparently formed their attitude towards the unit under the influence of Moscow propaganda. All of the main accusations against Azov have been repeatedly refuted on the basis of facts on the web and in the media. In particular, on https://www.azovcontrafake.com/

Does it make sense to point out once again that the very phrase "Azov battalion" used in the law actually refers to a non-existent unit? At the end of 2014, Azov ceased to be a battalion and became a separate special forces unit. Since February 2023, our unit has been the 12th Azov Special Forces Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine. Not a battalion, not a regiment. It is a brigade.

It is this amendment, which wanders from one Appropriations bill to another from year to year, that is the reason why in 2022, during the defense of Mariupol, Azov did not have the latest Western weapons. At that time, we were holding back the enemy's superior forces in the besieged Mariupol, using the extremely limited resources we had, and we showed extremely high efficiency. How many lives could have been saved and what would have been the results of the city's defense if, in addition to high motivation, cohesion and professionalism, the Azovs had modern armored vehicles and artillery systems at their disposal?

Even after 2022, when it seemed that the world had finally learned the truth about Azov, we still do not have the opportunity to send our soldiers to most of the leading Western military exercises and do not receive the necessary weapons that our allies provide to Ukraine. This problem is partly solved by volunteers and conscious Ukrainians who do their best to help the unit: for example, the volunteer project "Tyloviki" has raised 77 million hryvnias for 17 FV432 Bulldog armored personnel carriers for the Azov Brigade. But war demands more.

Now the whole of Ukraine is experiencing what Azov has been dealing with since 2014. Unfortunately, Azov was not only the first unit in the Ukrainian army to implement Western military standards, but also one of the first and main targets of Moscow's propaganda. Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2014, Russia has accused Azov and other volunteer units of "neo-Nazism" and aimed to destroy them. In 2022, the Russians wanted to "denazify" the whole of Ukraine, labeling the entire nation as "Nazis." 10 years ago, no one helped Azov resist the influence of enemy propaganda. Today, the whole country is in the same situation. And just like Azov did for 10 years, Ukraine may now face a lack of Western assistance.

I emphasize that the very existence of such amendments and bans not only prevents Azov from performing its combat missions even more effectively, but is a blow to our country's defense capabilities, tarnishes Ukraine's image in the international arena and is humiliating for the entire Ukrainian army.

There is no evidence or confirmation of the accusations that Russian propaganda has been levying against Azov for 10 years. If there were, delegations of Azov fighters would not have been received in the United States, in European countries, and in Israel. Azov members would not have held meetings with representatives of the U.S. Congress and human rights organizations. They would not have spoken at the UN, the Council of Europe, or at the best Western universities. They would not have given interviews to the world's leading media and would not have participated in panel discussions at major military conferences. This is the absurdity of the situation: "Azov is being welcomed at the highest level throughout the Western world, but still not given weapons.

"Azov is used to overcoming difficulties on its own. We were the first unit in Ukraine to adopt NATO standards, and we did it on our own initiative. Without Western weapons, we have become one of the most capable units in the country in 10 years. Our fighters are returning to the ranks after Russian captivity, fighting the enemy and fulfilling all the tasks set by the command.

No obstacles will stop us on our way. However, justice demands answers. How many more refutations of the Kremlin's lies do we have to provide before politicians in the West finally open their eyes to the truth? How long will a structural unit of the Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine, subordinated to the military leadership of the state, be stigmatized by such humiliating amendments?

And most importantly, how many more Ukrainian soldiers, fighters of our brigade, who are defending not only the freedom and independence of Ukraine, but also the entire free Western world from the real, unimagined Nazis of today, must die and be wounded because of the lack of necessary modern Western weapons, so that Azov is finally removed from the Appropriations bill and all "black lists"?

Denys Prokopenko 



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