In 2018 President Trump signed the omnibus spending bill. This 2232-page bill was passed by the House and had included a ban on sending any aid to the Azov battalions. At the time, representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California, was an outspoken critic of providing aid to the Azov Battalions. Ro Khanna said in a statement, “I am very pleased that the recently passed omnibus prevents the US from providing arms and training assistance to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion …” Ro Khanna continued, “White Supremacy and neo-Nazism are unacceptable and have no place in our world.” How interesting it is that the Democrats are now pushing to fund the Azov Battalion to the tune of $33 billion. It seems the roots of the Democratic Party haven’t really changed.
At the time of the signing of this bill it was already illegal for the Azov Battalion to receive aid under the Leahy Law. The Leahy Law bans U.S. aid from going to groups when the Secretary of State has credible information that such a unit has committed gross violations of human rights. However, people who have been proponents of the ban, specifically on Azov, say that the Leahy law did not preclude it from getting aid. They say that the Secretary of State has never made such a determination about this group in particular. This is why they felt that it was necessary to include a special exception to the Azov battalion in the 2018 omnibus spending bill. Section 8129 specifically precludes Azov from assistance. It reads, “none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training, or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.”
The Azov Battalion was founded in 2014. This is the same year that the United States began providing funding for aid and training forces in their fight against Putin backed separatists. The Azov Battalion was created by Andriy Biletsky. According to reports published in USA TODAY in 2015 only 20% of the Azov battalion is associated with neo-Nazism. According to authorities familiar with this subject it is not the official ideology of Azov. Whatever is the official ideology of Azov, it’s clear that in the past Democrats did not support them or their mission. Additionally, President Trump attempted to keep us out of this civil war between Putin separatists and Azov by signing the 2018 omnibus spending bill.
What has changed within the Democratic Party that they now support a group that they previously considered white supremacists? Why are we now, seven years after the beginning of the civil war between Putin separatists and Azov, stepping into another nation’s conflict? How does this benefit the American people? Perhaps it’s time that Republicans and Democrats remind the public and the Democratic Party what the Democratic Party claimed just four short years ago and oppose this meddling in foreign affairs.