Mariupol is one of the hotspots of the current war. The russian army here is opposed by the Ukrainian regiment «Azov». It was this unit that took the main blow and repulsed the invasion of the Mariupol by Russian aggressors during the first attempt to capture the Ukrainian Donbas in 2014.
Existing speculations about the regiment's fighters are largely shaped by russian propaganda.
Special Forces Unit «Azov», also known as «Azov» regiment (SFU «Azov», military unit 3057) !!! - formation of the National Guard of Ukraine. Up until November 11, 2014, it was a subdivision of the special police patrol service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. The unit is based in Mariupol, Donetsk region.
- 1st Operational Battalion
- 2nd Operational Battalion
- Tank Company
- Artillery Battalion
Accusations of «neo-Nazism»
When the unit was founded, the first participants were members of two public organisations: Avtomaidan and «Patriot of Ukraine». The volunteer unit was formed by caring men who sought to protect their country from pro-Russian invasion. On May 20, 2014, the recruitment of fighters was announced, which at first indeed attracted supporters of far-right views, although after becoming a regular combat unit, it became «deideologised». Recruits joined «Azov» not due to its ideology, but because «it has a reputation of an exceptionally powerful combat unit».
The founder and head of the «Azov» sergeant school is Giorgi Kuparashvili, a former Georgian special forces commander who frequently participated in combat. The instructors of the school are officers of the Georgian army, most of whom received officer training in the United States under the «green berets» program. The training is conducted according to the NATO standards with enhanced physical and psychological training. Georgian, American and Estonian experiences are also involved. Cadets conduct training in tactics, topography, psychology and media work.
The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov commented on the issue of radical right-wing ideology, which is allegedly professed by the majority of Azov fighters: «Yes, most of the fighters in «Azov» have their own perception of the world. But who told you that you have the right to judge them? Do not forget what the «Azov» Battalion did for the country. Anyone who tells me that these guys preach Nazi views, wear a swastika, and so on, is openly lying and fooling around. I spent many hours talking to the «Azov» fighters. There’s no Nazism or swastika there».
On December 31, 2014, the 43rd session of the Mariupol City Council, the largest Russian-speaking city in the South-East of Ukraine, decided to award the title of honorary citizens to nine soldiers of the «Azov» Special Forces Unit. These are Andriy Biletsky, Ruslan Gorlandin, Vadym Zinkovsky, Ihor Knyazhansky, Serhiy Korovin, Serhiy Korotkykh, Danylo Mykhaylenko, Vadym Troyan, Volodymyr Shpara.
The history of «Azov» will be filled with heroic deeds, feats and many victories. They persevered and were hardened in fierce battles, heroically liberating Mariupol, Marinka, Shirokino, Pavlopol, Lebedynske in 2014.
Today, the «Azov» regiment is invincible and one of the most capable units of the Ukrainian army, whose fighters have professional skills at the highest level, have the latest weapons and equipment and the same thirst for victory as eight years ago.