Controversial neo-Nazi Azov Battalion removed from Stanford University’s list of dangerous militant groups
07/05/2024 // Richard Brown // Views

The Mapping Militants Project (MMP) of Stanford University has quietly removed from its list of militant organizations the profile of the controversial Azov Battalion in Ukraine.

The Azov Battalion, officially known as the 12th Special Operations Brigade "Azov," is a unit within the Ukrainian National Guard that has garnered notoriety for years for its open adherence to neo-Nazi ideology, its use of neo-Nazi symbols and its recruitment of neo-Nazi fighters. This isn't even mentioning allegations of war crimes that follow the battalion.

Despite claims of supposedly being "depoliticized," Azov's ties to fascist organizations persist. Many of Azov's current leaders, including Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko and Deputy Commander Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar, still have longstanding ties to fascist organizations and the unit has not stopped using Nazi symbols.

The Azov Battalion also has not disassociated itself with its history of abuses and war crimes, including torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. These abuses continued even after the unit's integration into the Ukrainian National Guard.

Founded in 2014, Azov was initially a volunteer unit to combat pro-Russian separatists in Donbas at the outbreak of the low-intensity conflict between Russia and Ukraine following the 2014 Ukrainian Maidan Revolution.

It gained international attention and scrutiny for its role in the 2014 Battle of Mariupol, which saw Ukrainian government-aligned units retake the city of Mariupol from Russian separatists under the Donetsk People's Republic. Azov's notoriety stemmed from its use of neo-Nazi symbols and fascist affiliations.

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Ukrainian diplomats allegedly pressuring U.S. to stop scrutinizing Azov Battalion

Stanford's Mapping Militants Project is funded by the United States' Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Shortly after the Azov Battalion's de-listing from the MMP, the State Department lifted its ban on providing military aid to the unit, raising questions about the timing and motives behind the profile's removal. Stanford's MMP's removal of Azov's profile is significant as its research guides U.S. foreign policy.

The MMP's papers are regularly cited in academia, in testimonies before Congress and in papers and other memos published by federal agencies. The removal aligns MMP's list with the State Department's decision, preventing it from being used as a critique. (Related: Former Pentagon official says U.S. arming of Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov Brigade a sign of desperation.)

The State Department claims that Azov is now an entirely different entity from the Azov Battalion that Congress targeted years ago with the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. funding for foreign security forces implicated in human rights violations.

The removal might be linked to pressure from Ukrainian diplomats.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova celebrated the removal on Facebook, thanking Stanford and her colleagues for countering so-called Russian propaganda and suggesting a possible pressure campaign. Markarova posted a screenshot of the “Page not found” message that appears when navigating to the Azov profile and expressed gratitude for Stanford's "response."

When asked, MMP head political scientist Martha Crenshaw stated the profile is being updated but gave no specifics. She did not clarify whether profiles are typically taken down during updates or when the update would be completed. It remains unclear if Markarova contacted MMP about the removal.

It should be noted that the MMP, which Crenshaw helped launch back in 2009, continues to take funding from multiple federal agencies, and many of its researchers are intimately tied to the American military-industrial complex.

Crenshaw, who oversees MMP, has worked with the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism funded by the DHS. Iris Malone, former co-director of MMP, served as Principal Investigator for the Homeland Security Centers of Excellence Researcher Kaitlyn Robinson has a background working for the Defense Department.

Watch this video investigating the allegations that both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency are using Azov Battalion units in the United States.

This video is from the channel The Prisoner on

More related stories:

Ukrainian Azov neo-Nazis' biggest lobbyist and supporter? Former British prime minister Boris Johnson.

WEAPONS FOR NAZIS: Ukrainian neo-Nazis in Azov Brigade can now use U.S.-supplied weapons to wage war.

UK government praises neo-Nazi Ukrainians in parliament.

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