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Biden administration lifts ban on providing U.S. weapons to Azov

11 June, 2024 Tuesday
10:44

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will allow the supply of American weapons to the Azov Brigade, lifting the ban imposed several years ago

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This was reported by The Washington Post with reference to the U.S. State Department.

“After thorough review, Ukraine’s 12th Special Forces Azov Brigade passed Leahy vetting as carried out by the U.S. Department of State,” the agency said.

The Leahy Law prevents U.S. military assistance from going to foreign units credibly found to have committed major human rights violations. It is named for former senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who wrote the legislation.

According to a statement quoted by The Washington Post, the State Department has found no evidence of such violations.

A State Department spokesperson declined to say when the ban was lifted or whether the U.S. weapons had already reached Azov's staff. The Azov leadership and the Ukrainian government also did not comment on this information.

In addition to the State Department vetting process, Azov has long been barred from receiving U.S. aid by U.S. appropriations laws.

Azov, which started as a volunteer battalion, was barred about a decade ago from using American arms. U.S. officials determined that some of its founders espoused racist, xenophobic and ultranationalist views, and U.N. human rights officials accused the group of humanitarian violations.

Azov rejects the neo-Nazi accusations, pointing out that the volunteer brigade includes fighters from various ethnic and religious groups, including Jewish soldiers. The military also believes that such accusations may be influenced by Russian propaganda.

Now, U.S. officials say that since the 2014 Azov battalion is structurally different from the brigade that is now part of the National Guard, these restrictions do not apply.

Azov's reaction to the decision to lift weapons ban

The brigade says that this was the outcome of a long and painstaking work carried out by Azov soldiers in the fight against the successful results of Russian propaganda. 

“The lies about Azov, which the Kremlin regime has been spreading in the West for years, have suffered a crushing blow today,” the statement said. 

The defenders also added that receiving Western weapons and training from the United States will not only increase the brigade's combat capability, but will also help save the lives and health of the personnel.

  • In early May, Azov said that the Presidential Office's website had rejected their petition to facilitate the unblocking of U.S. aid for the unit for the second time.

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