U.S. lifts weapons ban on Ukraine’s Azov Brigade



The Biden administration has decided to allow the Azov Brigade, a Ukrainian military unit with a controversial past, to use U.S. weaponry. The brigade was previously banned from using American arms due to concerns about its founders’ racist and ultranationalist views and accusations of humanitarian violations. However, after a thorough review, the State Department found no evidence of major human rights violations and lifted the ban. This decision comes as Ukraine faces increased pressure from Russian forces in the east and on its energy infrastructure. The Azov Brigade, known for its defense of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, has been seeking access to U.S. equipment to enhance its effectiveness. While Russian President Putin has criticized the brigade as neo-Nazis, the brigade’s leadership maintains that it has distanced itself from those associations. The brigade’s name has become synonymous with Ukraine’s resistance in Mariupol, and the plight of its prisoners has garnered support across the country. The brigade has undergone changes, including new leadership and an intensive recruitment campaign, in an effort to improve its capabilities. Despite U.S. laws prohibiting aid to the Azov Battalion, the brigade is now eligible for U.S. military assistance as part of the Ukrainian National Guard.





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