Former Pentagon Official: US Providing Weapons to Azov Brigade Shows Desperation

Washington is simply trying to “provoke” Moscow by allowing the notorious Azov Brigade to use American weapons, Michael Maloof has told RT.

Washington’s decision to permit the use of US-supplied weapons by Kiev’s infamous Azov Brigade is a desperate attempt that only strengthens Russia’s claim that it is fighting neo-Nazism in Ukraine, Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst at the US Department of Defense, has told RT.

On Monday, the US State Department lifted a ban on deliveries of arms to the Azov Brigade, which had been imposed by Congress in 2018 due to the unit’s ties to neo-Nazism. According to the agency, a recent review has found “no evidence” of the military formation being in violation of the Leahy Law, which prohibits Washington from aiding foreign security force units that violate human rights with impunity.

“Clearly, the Azov group didn’t transform from criminals into saints overnight,” Maloof said in an interview on Tuesday. “There is still a record of atrocities they committed, human rights abuses… you still see them marching around as a group with their symbols, with their camaraderie and their discipline in support of fascism.”

This change in Washington’s stance on the Azov Brigade means “you can no longer truly believe anything the State Department says, let alone the intelligence community,” he emphasized.

According to the former Pentagon official, the US move is “a sign of desperation” and a belated effort to “boost morale” among Ukrainians amid Russian advances on the front line this year.

“I question the reasoning behind wanting to continue supporting a Nazi group like this because the war is essentially lost already. To support the Azov only adds fuel to the fire… and reinforces and strengthens Russia’s point of view that this is about fighting Nazism in Ukraine,” he said.

Maloof noted that the Azov fighters “haven’t really performed” in combat; they were defeated by Russian forces in the battle for Mariupol early in the conflict. He believes it is unlikely they would fare any better if armed with American weapons.

The lifting of the ban by the US is “an attempt to simply provoke the Russians because of their steadfast opposition to Nazism,” which wouldn’t lead to any changes on the battlefield, the former Pentagon official emphasized.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Moscow’s attitude towards Washington providing weapons to “ultra-nationalist armed units” like the Azov Brigade was “extremely negative.” He said the US wants to “suppress” Russia so much that it is willing to go so far as to begin “flirting with neo-Nazis.”