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

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

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

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