Ottawa Citizen: Canada's Military Trained Ukrainian Nazis
A top Nazi hunter and Holocaust scholar says Canada failed when it allowed Ukrainian military personnel connected to far-right groups to receive training as recently as 17 months ago.
But the Canadian Forces says it had no obligation to be entirely certain of the backgrounds of those soldiers it trained in Ukraine.
Radio Canada reported Monday that Canadian military personnel trained both members of the far-right Azov regiment as well as at least one Ukrainian soldier who sported the crest of a Nazi SS unit from the Second World War. The training took place in November 2020.
Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel said in an interview with this newspaper that Canada failed to properly monitor its own military training program. “The Canadian government didn’t do its due diligence,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of the Canadian defence ministry to know exactly who they are training.”
“There is no question that there are neo-Nazis in different forms in Ukraine, whether they are in the Azov regiment or other organizations,” he added.
Defence sources acknowledged the crest worn by the Ukrainian soldier in Canadian military photos is the insignia of Ukraine’s SS unit which fought for the Nazis. The other photos show Ukrainian troops with insignia linked to the Azov unit.
The report, entitled “Far-Right Group Made its Home in Ukraine’s Major Western Military Training Hub” and published by the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University, details a group within Ukraine’s National Army Academy (NAA) known as the “Military Order Centuria” or simply “Centuria.”
The group is led by those with ties to the internationally active far-right Azov movement, the report says. The Azov movement has attacked anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, media outlets, art exhibitions, foreign student, the LGBTQ2S+ community and Roma people.
A 2016 report issued by the Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights details accusations against the Azov movement’s militia known as the “Azov Battalion” of torture and other war crimes in the ensuing conflict after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. The Ukrainian National Guard later took the Azov Battalion into its ranks – where it is now known as the Azov regiment.
On Monday Ottawa Citizen military reporter David Pugliese revealed that when Canadian military officials met with the Azov Battalion in June 2018, they knew the group used the Nazi “Wolfsangel” symbol and praised officials who helped slaughter Jews and Poles during World War II. “A year before the meeting,” reports Pugliese,
Canada’s Joint Task Force Ukraine produced a briefing on the Azov Battalion, acknowledging its links to Nazi ideology.
Rather than express public disagreement with their views, Canadian military officials sought to manage any potential public relations fallout from at least two meetings, which included Azov representatives boasting about their Canadian support. More than 20 Department of National Defence (DND) public-relations officials discussed how to respond if the media reported on the Azov meeting.
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