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US lifted weapons ban for Ukraine's Azov Brigade, WP reports

by Abbey Fenbert June 11, 2024 5:59 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian servicemembers of the Azov Brigade are seen at an artillery position near the city of Lyman in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on April 7, 2024. (Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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The United States will allow Ukraine's Azov Brigade to use weapons provided by the U.S. to fight Russia's full-scale invasion, the U.S. State Department announced on June 10, reversing a long-standing policy.

"After thorough review, Ukraine's 12th Special Forces Azov Brigade passed Leahy vetting as carried out by the U.S. Department of State," the department said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post.

The statement refers to  the "Leahy Law," which prohibts the U.S. from providing aid to foreign military units suspected of human rights violations.

The Azov Brigade, part of Ukraine's National Guard, became a symbol of Ukraine's resistance through their defense of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in the first three months of the full-scale war. Russian forces eventually took Mariupol in May 2022, capturing the remaining defenders.

The brigade has also sparked controversy over its alleged association with far-right groups, a narrative often exploited in Russian propaganda campaigns.

The U.S. banned the Azov Brigade from using American weapons in 2014 due to the right-wing nationalist views of some of the regiment's founders. The unit has since become fully incorporated into Ukraine's National Guard and has come under new command.

Following the state department's announcement, Azov fighters will now have the same access to U.S. arms as other Ukrainian units.

Why did US hesitate to allow Ukraine to hit Russia with American weapons?
As U.S. President Joe Biden sought to avoid escalation with Russia over military aid to Ukraine, the American government delayed the supply of tanks, ATACMS missiles and the delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine – and broadly restricted the use of American-provided weapons on Russian territory and airspa…
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