John Pilger claims

With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of Nato, the last "buffer state" bordering Russia – Ukraine – is being torn apart by fascist forces unleashed by the US and the EU. We in the west are now backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler

This post here at Medium goes into more detail.

Are the USA and European Union supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

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    The USA and EU were providing modest and largely ineffective support to the Ukrainian government against the Russian destabilisation in south-east Ukraine. Some of the Ukrainian forces were in effect neo-Nazi militias (the Pilger article is from 2014). So in that sense the claims have some limited justification. But neither of your links provide particularly balanced accounts, either in terms of what Russia did (in effect an invasion of a neighbouring country, after it had taken Crimea legally another part of that country) or in terms of the balance of Ukrainian forces.
    – Henry
    Jul 7, 2017 at 0:28
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    @Henry: With links, that could be an answer. Without links, it is a pseudo-answer...
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 7, 2017 at 5:59
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    Related question skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/19386/…
    – liftarn
    Jul 7, 2017 at 9:47
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    "where Ukranian Nazis backed Hitler" - pretty ancient history, but I'd also question whether something like that would be "backing Hitler" vs "opposing Stalin." Apr 18, 2018 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


Funding, arming, and training neo-Nazi militias

As of March 2018, the United States is no longer funding the Azov Battalion, which is a neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine. An amendment to the annual omnibus spending bill prevented future funds from being routed to the group.

At least one American analyst has suggested that the Azov batallion is not a neo-Nazi group and that this is all propaganda created by Putin, but according to an article in The Hill, there is massive evidence that they are neo-Nazis. For example,

The U.N. and Human Rights Watch have accused Azov, as well as other Kiev battalions, of a litany of human rights abuses. In 2016, the Simon Wiesenthal Center caught Azov trying to recruit neo-Nazis in France; Brazilian authorities have uncovered similar attempts in Brazil. Azov’s official page on VK, a social media site used in Ukraine and Russia, features images of a white power tattoo and the Totenkopf symbol used by SS concentration camp guards and neo-Nazis today.

Lev Golinkin, "The reality of neo-Nazis in Ukraine is far from Kremlin propaganda." 11 September 2017


Azov’s neo-Nazi contingent has been confirmed by The New York Times, the Daily Beast, USA Today, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, the BBC, Reuters and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. [Links available in original article]

Lev Golinkin, "When we can’t agree to fight against neo-Nazis, we’ve reached a new low". 5 April 2018

It is unclear how much US funding went to the Azov Battalion before this, but they were a beneficiary. Azov was among the groups officially trained by the US and NATO in 2015.

The spokesman, Andrey Dyachenko, adds that “Only 10 percent to 20 percent of the group’s members are Nazis,” meaning that at least 100 to 200 Nazis may be about to receive intensive military training from US commandos.

The general situation in Ukraine

In 2012, the European Union warned Ukraine against associating with the Svoboda party, accusing it of “racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views.” In 2013, just prior to the revolution, John McCain was photographed at the Ukraine Maidan standing next to a member of Svoboda who had called for a fight against the "Muscovite-Jewish mafia".

In post-2014 Ukraine, Neo-Nazism is common both at the municipal level and at the state level. This is actively supported both by United States politicians and at the highest levels of the State Department:

In 2017, the New York Times printed the following editorial from Eduard Dolinsky, former executive director of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine:

Jewish cemeteries and synagogues have been vandalized. Nadia Savchenko, a member of Parliament who became a national hero when she was a pilot captured by Russia, recently appeared on television and delivered an anti-Semitic screed. “I have nothing against Jews,” she said. “I do not like ‘kikes.’ ” She added: “Jews possess 80 percent of the power when they only account for 2 percent of the population.”

The majority of Ukrainian Jews share the desire to build a modern, democratic state, free from the endemic corruption we have lived with for the past 25 years. We support Ukraine’s choice to integrate with the West — which is why the Kremlin’s attempt to turn Ukraine’s Jews against Kiev during Moscow’s takeover of Crimea failed — and we have no more desire to live under Russian domination than other citizens.

[...] Western leaders must also stress that the glorification of organizations like O.U.N.-U.P.A. [the group behind the "Slava Ukraini" slogan] remains incompatible with Western values. We need the United States and the world’s help — for the memory of the slaughtered Jews and for Ukraine’s future.

Eduard Dolinsky, "What Ukraine’s Jews Fear" 11 April 2017

The BBC, for their part, claims that antisemitism has not increased, and that this is a fabrication by Putin. Their main source for this is an oligarch who seized control of the Ukrainian Jewish community in 2010.

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    This reads like you have to be a nazi to carry out a pogram. There is also alot of shade thrown at the average Ukrainian in those bullet points, I mean the country did lose 4 million souls to the Nazis in WW2, and 7 million to the Communists, they can't all be thrilled at the chance to be neo-nazis now.
    – daniel
    Apr 18, 2018 at 9:44
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    Upvote, but I don't think the case for the Azov Battalion being a Neo-Nazi group isn't as cut and dry as you make it out to be. Strong cases can be made that some of the evidence is either "it looks like a Nazi symbol -> they're nazis" or that it was manipulated by hostile entities.
    – DenisS
    Apr 18, 2018 at 13:38
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    @DenisStallings I think the case is pretty clear. The founder and first commander is a Nazi, they use Nazi symbols, and they themselves say that some of their members are Nazis (although they try to downplay the extend). Even if we assume that they moved away from Nazism since Biletsky left, the question is mainly about support from before 2016.
    – tim
    Apr 18, 2018 at 14:07
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    The BBC is not "government-run". I can't take your answer seriously when it includes such a silly mistake.
    – 410 gone
    Apr 18, 2018 at 20:12
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    The U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine is NOT constantly saying “Slava Ukraini.” The article you cited says she said it once in a youtube video. My great-uncles were murdered in pogroms in Ukraine during Czar Nicholas-era Russia, and I am Jewish: I readily concede that a more historically-aware slogan could have been chosen by the US ambassador. Yet it is misleading to describe her phrasing in 2017 as the Ukraine equivalent of Sieg Heil. Apr 19, 2018 at 1:19

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