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    February 25, 2015

    Die Zeit: Azov Battalion recruits Ukrainians in Germany through social media





    2/25/2015


    By Volker Siefert

    Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

    The Ukrainian diaspora is providing material assistance to Kiev’s army, writes Die Zeit. It is operating through social media, which is also used to recruit volunteers for the right-radical formations such as Azov and UNA-UNSO. Experts consider this a major source of danger, since the extremists who are earning political capital in the conflict are not interested in a diplomatic resolution.

    The representatives of Ukraine’s diaspora in Germany consider it their duty to help their compatriots in Ukraine, writes Die Zeit. Even the ceasefire which was negotiated by Chancellor Merkel will not influence them, notes the article’s author Volker Siefert.

    At the beginning it took the form of humanitarian aid for the Donbass and refugees, but as the situation escalated, the aid was dedicated to satisfying military needs. One of the representatives of the diaspora told Die Zeit how she equipped a Ukrainian soldiers using her own money. He placed a plea for equipment on Facebook.

    Soldiers place specific requests on social media, and the “helpers in Germany” carry them out through volunteer couriers who deliver them to the destination. Helmets, body armor, and night vision devices are in particular demand. Export control rules in Germany classify them as defense materiel which means the sender must obtain a license which, in Ukraine’s case, is usually not issued. The customs service pays close attention to such deliveries: Germany does not want to get involved in the conflict on a military level.

    However, the assistance of the Ukrainian diaspora is not limited to materiel. The 18-year-old high school student Dmitriy from Munich broke off his studies two years before graduation in order to travel to the UNA-UNSO battalion training camp in Vinnitsa. In his words, he is preparing to “liberate his native Donetsk from Russian terrorists.” The young soldier will undergo a four-week course of military preparation and of ideological indoctrination which the article’s author considers controversial, noting that UNA-UNSO is known for its anti-semitism and Russophobia. Dmitriy did not wish to explain how he became a member of this right-radical battalion. Siefert believes that recruiters deliberately target young Ukrainians in Germany through social media and appeal to their sense of patriotism. The Azov battalion even has a representative for contacting volunteers in foreign countries.

    Professor of History Tariq Amar at Columbia University sees great danger here. In his words, the right-radical battalions are earning political capital in this war. Therefore they are not interested in its diplomatic resolution.

    J.Hawk’s Comment: The other danger is the possibility of a spill-over into the European neo-Nazi community which is watching the developments in Ukraine with considerable interest. The German government appears concerned by these developments—this much is evident from the reporting in German media, which are less prone to concealing the ugly nature of Ukrainian nationalism than the English-language media. It is one of the reasons why Germany really does not want to see the conflict escalate, because the longer it continues, the more clout the right-radical formations will have in Ukraine, thus becoming a beacon for like-minded right-radicals elsewhere in Europe. Including in Germany, which is already struggling with the Pegida movement.
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