Alex Rubinstein & Lee Camp: The Truth About Ukraine’s Azov Battalion
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has brought attention to a number of different military groups, including the Georgian Legion, a unit consisting mostly of foreign fighters. Alex Rubinstein, a journalist for The Grayzone, has been covering the Georgian Legion and shedding light on its brutal tactics, media friendliness, and its mercenary nature. In this interview, Lee and Alex discussed the Georgian Legion, its role in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and its relationship with other parties involved in the war.
The Georgian Legion is one of two main foreign groups fighting in Ukraine, the other being the International Legion. It is made up of mostly foreigners, mostly from Georgia, but also from the United States, Canada, and other NATO countries. It has a reputation for being one of the more brutal groups fighting in the war, yet has been praised in the mainstream media.
The group is being paid and armed by the Ukrainian government, and therefore can be considered as mercenary groups. They are not just showing up to help the cause; they are being paid to be on the receiving end of the Russian military might. Rubinstein also told Camp today that they are being indirectly armed by the United States itself.
The unit is known for being a particularly media-savvy group. They have received both a great deal of press attention and donations from abroad. They also have an internet trolling operation called NAFO, which they used to generate more press and donations.
The implications of this are multifaceted; it gives the government the ability to plausibly deny responsibility for war crimes committed by the legion and allows for the recruitment of more foreign fighters that can be used for political gain. This type of mercenary group, however, can have a negative impact on the region and even globally as they operate under their own agenda.
In other context, The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is a well-known organization that has long been committed to equating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. However, in recent years, the ADL has come under fire for defending the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian group that has been linked to white supremacist and Neo-Nazi ideologies. Rubinstein’s recent work has highlighted the ADL’s defense of Azov, the group’s ideologies, and the implications of this defense for the fight against anti-Semitism.
The Azov Battalion is a Ukrainian military unit that was formed in 2014, during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. It is made up of volunteer fighters, many of whom are associated with far-right and white supremacist ideologies. The group – like many in Ukraine – looks up to Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II and is believed to be responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 Jewish people.
The ADL’s Defense of Azov, despite the group’s association with white supremacist and Neo-Nazi ideologies, has brought criticism. Some have accused the ADL of siding with one political party over the other, and of diluting the meaning of anti-Semitism in order to support its allies. The ADL’s promotion of fake news about Russia bombing a memorial site for victims of the Holocaust in Ukraine and for blocking people on Twitter who pointed out the failure of their claim, also brings doubt on their credibility as an institution.
Critics argue that the ADL’s defense of Azov is part of a broader “corruption” of Jewish institutions. They contend that many Jewish organizations have become so tied to one political party or another that they no longer stand for the rights and interests of Jewish people. By diluting the meaning of anti-Semitism and supporting groups like Azov, these organizations are making it easier for anti-Semitism to flourish.
Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of Behind The Headlines’ new series: The Most Censored News With Lee Camp. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years.
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