The ultra-far right group said to be behind the photoshoot has promised to fight to the death against a Russian invasion
A notorious Ukrainian neo-Nazi group was reportedly behind a highly-publicized civil defense training session preparing civilians for a potential Russian invasion, with Western media now accused of having covered the event uncritically as part of a worsening standoff with Russia.
On Monday, a number of news agencies picked up pictures of an elderly woman, known as Valentina Konstantinovska, undergoing military training in the city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region in Eastern Ukraine.
The 79-year-old told reporters that she wants to be prepared to defend her family in the face of a putative Russian invasion.
However, several analysts poured scorn on the reporting from Western news agencies for allegedly failing to mention that the Azov Battalion, a right-wing extremist and Neo-Nazi Ukrainian National Guard unit, hosted the bootcamp for local residents.
a) Non-Russian speaking American reporter arrives in Kiev & just happens to find a Ukrainian babushka with an AK-47, at an outdoor drill, on a 40 degree Fahrenheit (4°C) cold winter’s day.— Bryan MacDonald (@27khv) February 13, 2022
b) There’s a very well organised information war going on.
Take your pick. https://t.co/STCSqk3toV
Citing a publication from Czech media outlet Irozhlas that the training was held by the movement, American journalist Mark Ames said that it means “a bonafide Nazi propaganda tool is the darling of the Angloid media elites.”
New York’s ABC7NY showed a clip of the training, in which an instructor could be seen wearing a Nazi symbol used by the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich.
“Naturally the US TV media beaming this into our homes keeps disciplined silence – the Nazi insignias are fine, just don’t mention them out loud,” Ames wrote.
Ok it’s confirmed here, with the Azov Battalion guy and his Nazi Wolfsangel symbol overseeing Baba Valentyna. Naturally the US tv media beaming this into our homes keeps disciplined silence—the Nazi insignias are fine, just don’t mention them out loud.https://t.co/JqNMakY9uW— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) February 14, 2022
The group, which have previously said that they would fight to the death if Russia attacks, openly sport fascist emblems, including the Wolfsangel, on their uniforms. While the Wolfsangel sign is an ancient symbol that was believed to be able to ward off wolves, it was used in Nazi Germany and has since been appropriated by neo-Nazis in Europe and the US.
Tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border have reached fever pitch in recent months, with Western leaders sounding the alarm that Moscow’s armed forces could soon stage an invasion. The Kremlin has repeatedly insisted that it has no appetite to wage a conflict and has accused English-language outlets of whipping up mass “hysteria.”
In January, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, Aleksey Danilov, stated that he did not share the same “panic” raised in the West, which he believes is connected to “geopolitical and domestic” reasons. “The buildup of Russian troops isn’t as rapid as some claim,” he said.