The Azov Regiment, Mariupol, and Ideology

What have you heard about the situation of the Azov Regiment underneath the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol? The Western corporate media may say that they are nothing more than proud, brave nationalists zealously defending their country from foreign invaders. They may echo the contention of the regime in Kyiv that these fighters were valiantly threatening the Russian armed forces behind their lines, engaging in a ‘pinning’ operation to keep Russian forces in Mariupol from being redirected towards the frontlines north of Mariupol. They may deny the ideological origins of the Azov Regiment, obscuring the blatant inflection of National Socialism and modern neo-Nazism in their words and deeds. They may also say that it is a tragedy that these ‘defenders’ of Mariupol have lost their fight to protect their people in Mariupol. Yet this behavior of the Western corporate media is untenable when we consider the real origins and history of the Azov Regiment.  I will show you how far these truths go, and they go pretty deep. Indeed, the rabbit hole goes pretty far, and you may be horrified.

Let’s consider the ideological background and the actual inspiration of the Azov Regiment. The origin of the militia go back to Andrei Biletsky, who has a background that simply doesn’t allow the media much room for interpretive license.  The founder of the Azov Regiment (or Azov ‘Batallion’ as they were known from their birth in 2014) spent his formative years in the football hooligan scene in Kharkov. These people were not known for their esoteric historical or political thought. Their MO is tribalism of the sort of crude kind comparable to those in prison. When they use Nazi symbols and repeat Nazi slogans, they usually mean exactly what they say they mean, so I don’t know how much credit Biletsky deserves in having broad ideological horizons. These people knew who their in-group was and who their out-group was, and that was all that mattered.

Somehow Biletsky met Arsen Avakov, the Governor of Kharkov who received his job from the central government in Kyiv. Avakov must have known with what kind of person he was dealing. In fact, Avakov was so impressed by Biletsky and his Azov Battalion that he decided to deputize the militia and grant them the ability to go after people and put them in jail. This is a pretty striking omen, yet it pales in comparison to what was yet to come.

When 2014 came around, and the United States, under the auspices of the office of Vice President Biden with Victoria Nuland coordinating events, led a coup in Ukraine and put in another government under Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Avakov became the Interior Minister, in charge of all domestic security forces, and Azov was from that point forward integrated into the national security forces of Ukraine. During this time, they received financial backing from Igor Kolomoisky, a Jewish Cypriot oligarch who financed franchise battalions across the country and put a bounty on the head of every Russia-friendly political opponent. The headquarters for this new beginning was in Berdiyansk, a Zaporizhzhia Oblast coastal city close to the border of Donetsk Oblast, on the Azov Sea. They quickly gained the reputation of persecution of Russia-friendly opponents of the new US puppet regime in Kyiv.

This reputation spread all around the world, with the most notable audience being their ideological sympathizers, reaching those in the National Socialist milieu as well as those loosely surrounding the American White Identity movement called the Alt-Right. This association can be seen in one Azov’s flags which reads, in the original English, “Misanthropic Division” and in the original German below that title, ‘Töten für Wotan’ (meaning “killing for Odin”). They justify this version of Ukrainian identity from archaeological and linguistic theories tying the birth of ‘European’ or ‘Aryan’ peoples to the area of present Ukraine known as the Pontic Steppe and what feminist archaeologist Maria Gimbutas said came from the Kurgan culture there.

This suggests to them that ‘white civilization’ originates in their homeland, giving their ideology a historical mythos that can attract whites from across the world to support of their movement while preserving their special place in that history. As can be seen from that flag, moreover, they also tie themselves to the history of the Kievan Rus, which was founded by Nordic princes who had a Germanic religion at that point, putting them in the place of ‘Vikings’ or ‘Varangians’ who are seeking to expand their Nordic nation. Thus political activists around the world with Nordicist racial beliefs would also be attracted to service and training on behalf of their nation.

In Mariupol, more and more residents and Donetsk Oblast political activists were taking the political structures of Mariupol away from the control of the regime in Kyiv, which prompted a response from the regime. Azov and their crusaders took up the task to move their headquarters to Mariupol to bolster the regime’s control over the city, turning it into the provisional capital of Donetsk Oblast under the auspices of the regime in Kyiv. Azov turned the surrounding territories of operation into their personal playground for criminality of all sorts. They stole and robbed for personal profit. They raped women and killed children and women. According to, they kidnapped and tortured and murdered civilians and engaged in criminality akin to gangs without being able to be prosecuted. And according to Amnesty International:

Amnesty International has documented a growing spate of abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, robbery, extortion, and possible executions committed by the Aidar battalion. Some of these amount to war crimes.

Aidar is the name of a franchise battalion that operated in the same region.

As the conflict in this eastern region of Ukraine raged on, ordinary people in Ukraine may have tired more and more of this situation and a candidate that had made peace gestures in the past came to the front of the ranks of candidates for president. Vladimir Zelenskyy was an actor who promised not to be an ordinary politician and campaigned against corruption in Ukraine. But that wasn’t what was important to this whole episode in world history. What was important was that his boss was that oligarch Igor Solomoisky, who was the owner of the company that produced the shows in which Zelenskyy played a role, and so the power structure in Ukraine, with business partners like Arsen Avakov who were installed by the United States, had now consolidated power with both associates of America and neo-Nazism at the helm in Kyiv. Such a bizarre happening in the history of the world.

And so as Russian soldiers closed in on the Azov Regiment in Mariupol, it can be seen that the Azov commanders and troops were truly important to the regime in Kyiv. They functioned as a paramilitary structure able to enforce the diktats of the regime in Kyiv with more fervor than those taking orders from regular Ukrainian general officers. Along with the SBU, the secret police of the Ukrainian state, Mariupol was truly a police state. Azov requisitioned the airport there, and according to witness after witness converted it into political prison, with torture, murder, and rape as a matter of course, and so the ‘freedom’ that they were ‘defending’ from Russian sympathizers was an apparent dark comedic joke. American weapons and vehicles can be spotted all around the ruins of Mariupol and so we can also see how America supported this sadistic police state as well.

While the battles of the military operation were raging, and there seemed to be only the avoidance of casualties for Russian forces to consider, the West and Zelenskyy decided to demand that the people in the Azovstal steel plant be left to go into Ukrainian hands. The civilians there could have always been allowed to go into Russian territory, but the militants in the plant, overseen by the regime in Kyiv, decided not to let the civilians leave, turning them into effective human shields. The Russian forces there could have simply killed everyone therein, especially since they are the sworn militant enemies of Russia, but they exercised restraint in pursuit of higher goals.

The battle of Mariupol kept Russian forces busy surrounding Ukrainian soldiers and militants in the downtown, requiring both urban combat forces from the Donetsk Peoples Republic and others as well as fire support from Russian Battalion Tactical Groups. Eventually it got to the point at which most of the Russian troops in Mariupol were redeployed to other fronts, but artillery and other units remained in order to keep a cordon on the steel plant and prevent anyone at the plant from staging attacks or escapes.

In Western corporate media, they talk about so many situations in Ukraine being humanitarian disasters as a result of the destruction there. They act as though President Putin is making the humanitarian situation as bad as possible. But this ignores the reality that, if Ukrainian forces want to spare the lives of their countrymen, then they should leave these civilian areas and not engage in tactics that attract so much destruction around civilians. According to reports on the ground, the reality was that Ukrainian fighters used the same buildings as civilians used, and there are many videos available online to show that Ukrainian fighters used anything from schools to hospitals as shelters and fortifications. Thus the ones who were ‘killing for Odin’ managed to lead to the deaths of their own kinfolk.

Not only death reigned through this episode, but utter foolishness did as well. It was reported that President Zelenskyy ordered a rescue mission by helicopters into Mariupol, giving his military an impossible mission that couldn’t be fulfilled. And indeed it wasn’t fulfilled.  Zelenskyy just kept talking about the bravery of Azov holing themselves up with civilians inside of the steel plant complex. He kept demanding a humanitarian corridor, but Russia had no reason to just invite those militants to slip away from battle. If humanitarian aid was an issue, it has also been reported that Russia has their own humanitarian detachments in their military who follow the armed forces and provide food and medical aid to locals in need. Civilians didn’t need to go into Ukrainian custody just to receive humanitarian aid. This is an occurrence that has also gone unreported in the Western corporate media.

As the situation in the steel plant continued to deteriorate for the militants and the civilians among them, with food and weapons being depleted, some of the militants in an area separate from the rest of them decided to leave their posts and send up the white flag to the Russian forces. After they did so, some others followed, seeming to indicate that the first ones to give themselves up had broken the ice for the others to do the same. Russia indicated that they had a line of communication to the commanders inside the complex, and during their conversations with the commanders received indication that the commanders would facilitate the process.  Seeming to fear losing face, Zelenskyy and the rest of the regime announced that Ukrainian forces and Russia had agreed to an ‘evacuation’ of the Azovstal complex, and were in the process of negotiating an ‘exchange’ of prisoners. There is no evidence that any of the men in Azov were given over to Ukraine, with even The Washington Post acknowledging as much. The number of militants that surrendered in Mariupol amounted to around 2500, with some two hundred corpses also handed over.

Russia has said that they will prosecute members of the Azov Regiment and their associates as criminals, with foreign fighters receiving no dignity also as regular prisoners of war.  While any government often mistreats their political opponents, if anyone deserves a criminal trial, members of the Azov Regiment and their accomplices certainly would. Their long-term fate is unknown, only to be determined during Russian custody.

Thus we can see how the fate of those who got wrapped up in hooliganism, ideological adventurism, and just plain thuggery. A hooligan with obscure history interests sought to create a movement that would shake the political landscape of Ukraine and Europe, but thuggery sealed their fate. This thuggery continues all over Ukraine with their paramilitaries and special battalions enforcing their will upon others in the state structure, operating as political kommissars with guns, as well as abusing the civilians they are supposed to rule. Some of them had the sense to give up their fantasies of victory to the Russians. The Western establishment and their Globalist overlords should also do the same.

Thomas Bergman, Graduate in Political Science and International Relations
The author is an independent political and military analyst with a graduate degree in Political Science and International Relations. He has worked in politics and military affairs in Washington, DC. He publishes a successful substack page, and you can find him on his own website Quid Est Veritas for more quality comment and analysis of the conflict in Ukraine.
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