Regardless of the give up of the Azov regiment on the Azovstal Iron and Metal Works through the preventing in Mariupol final month, the legend of this unit has turned out to be enduring. The Ukrainian command has already introduced that new Azov particular operations forces will likely be created in Kharkov and Kiev.
On the identical time, a partial rebranding has been carried out. A medieval heraldic image – a trident (the coat of arms of Ukraine) consisting of three swords – is now depicted on the chevron of the ‘new’ Azov instead of the stylized Wolfsangel (‘wolf’s hook’) that has attracted a lot criticism from not solely Russia, but additionally the West and fellow Ukrainians. This condemnation is for good motive, because the image was used on the lapels of the SS’s Das Reich and Landstorm Nederland divisions, in addition to the brand of the Dutch Nazi Get together.
The Azovites have rejected all such accusations, claiming their regimental image was not a Wolfsangel, however moderately the primary letters of the phrase ‘Nationwide Concept’, allegedly written within the previous Ukrainian alphabet, which was a mixture of Cyrillic and Latin letters. And this isn’t Azov’s first rebranding – at one time, the ‘wolf’s hook’ on their chevrons changed the occult ‘black solar’ image, which was utilized in SS rituals and adorned the ground of the order’s fortress in Wewelsburg. Nevertheless, again then, the Azovites didn’t trouble making an attempt to clarify how the ‘black solar’ had notional Ukrainian roots.
The rejection of the Wolfsangel is clearly meant to make it attainable to say, “Sure, there was ultra-right components in Azov, however that’s all prior to now now. The regiment is transferring ahead with new symbols and new concepts.”
Nevertheless, this isn’t the case. Quite the opposite, the rebranding exhibits Azov has solely strengthened its ideology, changing into extra mature and discarding youthful outrage together with its Nazi symbolism, which alludes to an ideology that the regiment, as a company, by no means actually shared. To know this, it’s sufficient to take a look at Azov not solely as a army motion, but additionally a political undertaking.
Azov was based by radicals crossing over from Patriot of Ukraine. This group was primarily based in Kharkov, a metropolis within the northeast of the nation, which has at all times had a predominantly Russian-speaking inhabitants. Subsequently, Azov’s model of nationalism was completely different. Not like Ukrainian nationalists, they didn’t give attention to points pertaining to Ukraine’s language, ethnicity, or faith. They perceived the nation as a statist undertaking within the spirit of Italian fascism. Really, Patriot of Ukraine’s foremost ideologist, the Twentieth-century Ukrainian publicist Dmitry Dontsov (whose concepts have been additionally a serious affect on the Nazi collaborators of the Group of Ukrainian Nationalists), known as his ideology of ‘integral nationalism’ the Ukrainian model of nationalism developed within the Twenties, whereas repeatedly referring to the works of Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile, the principle authors of fascism.
On the identical time, Dontsov equated the ideas of nation and race. The latter he divided into grasp and slave races. In response to Dontsov, Ukrainians are a race of masters, whereas Russians are a race of slaves in search of to enslave Ukrainians. The conflict between Ukrainians and Russians is of an absolute, existential nature and may solely finish with the destruction of one of many events, Dontsov believed. Romanticism performs a key position on this wrestle, which he defines as the desire to sacrifice, the coherence of a number of people’ will to achieve energy, and directing all efforts in the direction of one objective – the constructing of a Ukrainian nation. It’s this romanticism that ensures that the person belongs to the collective entire and directs the nation on the trail of growth.
Dontsov’s romanticism relies on the parable of the ‘last battle’ from German-Scandinavian paganism. On this situation, the destruction of the world and its subsequent rebirth will come. The worship of the thought espoused on this fable should take the type of spiritual fanaticism. That is the one approach an thought can penetrate into the internal sanctum of an individual’s character and produce about what Dontsov calls a radical revolution within the human psyche.
Aggression in the direction of bearers of different views must be engendered in adherents to this concept, permitting them to reject common morality and concepts about good and evil. The brand new morality must be anti-humanist, primarily based solely on the desire to take energy. Private pursuits should undergo the frequent good, something that makes the nation stronger must be thought of moral, and all the things that stops this must be declared immoral.
Dontsov’s idea is totally elitist. To him, the individuals are simply an inert mass with no impartial will. The plenty are disadvantaged of the flexibility to develop their very own concepts; they will solely passively soak up them. The principle position is reserved for the lively minority, that’s, a bunch able to formulating an thought for the unconscious plenty that’s simple to grasp and motivates them to have interaction within the wrestle. The lively minority ought to at all times be on the head of the nation, in line with Dontsov.
What the Azovites took from the German Nazis was their technique of achieving energy. They tried to create a shadow ‘state inside a state’ that was purported to take management of all authorities establishments at a time of acute political disaster. An enormous community of civil organizations has grown up across the Azov regiment over the eight years of its existence. These embody e-book publishers, academic initiatives, scouting golf equipment, gyms, and different associations. It even has its personal political social gathering, the Nationwide Corps, with a paramilitary wing dubbed the Nationwide Militia. The regiment’s veterans play a key position right here.
With the assistance of those organizations, recruits have been enlisted for each the regiment itself and Azov’s civil motion. Azov veterans have additionally actively joined Ukraine’s Armed Forces and regulation enforcement companies, together with its police, Military, and Safety Service, the place they continued to unfold Azov’s ideology of integral nationalism.
A critical ritual part permeates all points of life throughout the Azov regiment itself and its civil motion. The three swords now depicted on the chevrons of the ‘new’ Azov are literally a mirrored image of a fairly tangible image. A ceremonial advanced with three wood swords was constructed at Azov’s foremost base within the metropolis of Urzuf close to Mariupol, the place virtually all the regiment’s rituals have been carried out. Essentially the most important of those is the commemoration of fallen comrades. Through the ritual, the Azovites stand holding wood shields and torches. The shields bear the regiment’s foremost symbols – the ‘black solar’ and Wolfsangel, in addition to the names of fallen members. The grasp of the ceremony calls out every of their names, after which a soldier with the corresponding defend lights a memorial gentle and says “We bear in mind!” to which the others reply, “We are going to take revenge!” This ritual will not be an unique invention. The Azovites borrowed it from the Italian fascists of the Twenties, who known as it Presente! This and different rituals have been developed by a particular ideological unit inside Azov, the ‘Normal-Bearer’ service.
In reality, the selection of the three swords as a brand new image is telling. A brand new era is coming into Azov’s high positions. These are now not the rowdy soccer followers who as soon as created the battalion and for whom sporting SS symbols and spouting Nazi ideology was a type of protest.
Now, the present is being run by individuals who have been introduced up throughout the Azov system with Azov’s ideology of integral nationalism. Ties with the European ultra-right, the so-called ‘white nationalist’ motion, are now not as necessary to them. The middle of their worldview is Ukrainian statehood and the Ukrainian nation, doomed to struggle towards each Russia and the liberal values of the West. After all, for the Azovites, one of the best a part of the Ukrainian nation is themselves.
The give up of the principle a part of the regiment at Azovstal has solely crystallized the Azov ideology. For the Azovites, the present Russian-Ukrainian battle has develop into the very eschatological ‘last battle’ depicted in Wagner’s opera. It’s to be waged towards the Russians and the liberal West, which doesn’t need to present sufficient army help or enter into an open conflict with Moscow.
If needed, it is going to even be waged towards its personal authorities, which promised to evacuate the defenders of Azovstal however didn’t hold its phrase. The final battle should be fought to the tip, and the Azovites couldn’t care much less what number of Ukrainian residents will burn in its fireplace within the identify of imposing their ‘Nationwide Concept.’