US Ends Weapons and Training Ban on Ukraine’s Azov Brigade

( – In 1997, the State Department implemented the Leahy Law (the Defense Department put it into force in 1999) to prohibit the giving of assistance, be it financial weaponry or training, to foreign entities found to be engaging in gross violations of human rights (GVHR). In 2014, the United States applied this prohibition to the Azov Brigade in Ukraine. Now, 10 years later, the Biden administration is lifting that restriction.

The Azov Battalion (its original name) was started as a volunteer mercenary group but rose in prominence in the fight against Russia in 2014 when the neighboring country invaded and seized the Crimea region. The group was founded by Andriy Biletsky, who is described as an ultra-nationalist. Russian propagandists claim some of the group’s members are Nazi sympathizers, and some members lean far-right and are xenophobic.

These are some of the reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin offered for his most recent invasion in February 2022.

Under the Leahy Law ban, the Azov group, also known as the 12th Asov Brigade, was not allowed to use any weapons supplied by the United States and was prohibited from participating in any US-led training.

Now, the group is officially part of the Ukraine military National Guard, and the original brigade broke up several years ago. The State Department says there’s no evidence that the new Asov Brigade is guilty of any human rights violations. As a result of that finding, the military group will now be able to train and operate like any National Guard division.

This is good news because the Ukraine military can use all the help it can get. The US recently approved another $61 billion in aid and has green-lighted the use of American weapons on targets across the Russian border. With advanced training and weapons, the Asov Brigade could play a more pivotal role in the country’s defense strategy.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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