Before Russia invaded Ukraine, these fighters were neo-Nazis. They still are.

By Lev Golinkin, The Nation

Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has already resulted in millions of losers—chief among them the civilians who’ve been tortured, murdered, forced to become refugees, or forced to spend their days worrying about loved ones fighting Russia.

Azov battalion

But there are also winners: the neofascists whom Putin’s war has turned into heroes.

For seven years, Western institutions have warned about Ukraine’s Azov Movement, which began as a neo-Nazi paramilitary group in 2014 and became notorious for its worldwide recruitment of extremists.

Then came Russia’s invasion. Within months, Azov fighters were being feted in Congress and at Stanford UniversityMSNBC swooned over a Ukrainian soldier whose Twitter account overflowed with neo-Nazi images. Facebook made the stunning decision to allow posts praising the Azov Battalion, even though the company admitted that it was a hate group.

This overnight normalization of white supremacy was possible because Western institutions, driven by a zeal to ignore anything negative about our Ukrainian allies, decided that a neo-Nazi military formation in a war-torn nation had suddenly and miraculously stopped being neo-Nazi.

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