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US lifts ban on transferring weapons to Azov Brigade - WP

US lifts ban on transferring weapons to Azov Brigade - WP

The administration of US President Joe Biden will permit the use of American-provided weapons by servicemen of 12th Special Purpose Brigade of Ukrainian National Guard Azov, according to The Washington Post.

The Washington Post notes that the decision was made after the Department of State reviewed the Azov Brigade.

Several years ago, the US imposed a taboo on arming the Azov fighters, the article says, against the backdrop of concern in Washington about the group's origins.

Now, the Azov National Guard Brigade of Ukraine will have access to the same US military assistance as any other unit, writes The Washington Post.

"After thorough review, Ukraine’s 12th Special Forces Azov Brigade passed Leahy vetting as carried out by the US Department of State," the State Department said in a statement.

The US agency refers to the so-called Leahy Law, named after former Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and the author of the document that prohibits the transfer of US military assistance to foreign units found to have committed human rights violations. Accordingly, the Azov fighters do not fall into this category.

The State Department found no evidence of such violations, the agency's statement said. However, it does not specify when the relevant taboo could have been lifted.

In addition to the State Department's vetting process, US laws have long prohibited the Azov battalion from receiving American aid. US officials say that since the Azov battalion of 2014 structurally differs from the brigade that is now part of the National Guard, these restrictions do not apply.

It was previously reported that in 2018, the US banned the issuance of its weapons to the Azov Battalion. The law on US budget appropriations at that time did not apply to the fighters of this special unit.

Azov and the fakes surrounding this Ukrainian military formation have long been among the top topics of Russian propaganda, and Russian media have actively tried to promote all sorts of invented horror stories about the Azov fighters, including in Western countries.