(New York, N.Y. / Berlin, Germany) – Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine in 2014, the Azov Movement has emerged as one of the most significant right-wing extremist structures in Ukraine. Transforming from an erstwhile military unit into a broader political and social movement, Azov is seen by many stakeholders in transnational violence-oriented right-wing extremist networks as an example to emulate. In addition to being incorporated into state military structures as a Regiment, Azov initially welcomed foreign fighters, including from Europe and the United States that flocked to the conflict in Ukraine to gain military and fighting experience. This provided the group with an international network, in particularly within the violence-oriented right-wing extremist milieus in Europe and the United States.
Azov’s transformation from a group focused solely on paramilitary activities in Ukraine into a social and political movement that espouses right-wing extremist ideological ideas was paralleled with wide-ranging outreach to other right-wing extremist networks outside Ukraine. This led to some calls for the designation of Azov as a foreign terrorist group by the United States, a potentially problematic move. Currently, the paramilitary training infrastructure within Ukraine—in particular its commercially organized training facilities with only scant customer controls mechanisms—presents the risk that violence-oriented right-wing extremist and terrorist individuals from abroad obtain weapons and explosives training in Ukraine. This would therefore potentially increase the effectiveness of the violence that these individuals may perpetrate in their home countries.
Given the transformed role of Azov and its transnational connections to violence-oriented right-wing extremist networks and individuals outside Ukraine, further research into the nature, character, and operations of this movement is required. In this first English-language book on the Azov movement, journalist and researcher Michael Colborne explains how Azov came to be and how it continues to exploit Ukraine’s fractured social and political situation—including the only ongoing war on European soil—to build one of the most ambitious and dangerous far-right movements in the world.
This webinar builds on the work of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) on the various challenges presented by violence-oriented right-wing extremist and terrorist networks in Europe and the United States. Colborne will discuss his findings and outline what potential effects the current crisis concerning Ukraine could mean for the wider transnational right-wing extremist movement. CEP research analyst Joshua Fisher-Birch will analyze the situation with a particular view towards networks and groups within the United States.
“The Azov Movement: Transnational Right-Wing Extremist Networks and the Current Situation in Ukraine”
Date: Thursday, February 10, 2022
Time: 9:30 a.m. ET / 15:30 CET
Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler
Senior Director, Counter Extremism Project
Journalist and researcher with the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR) and Bellingcat, author of From the Fires of War: Ukraine’s Azov Movement and the Global Far Right
Research Analyst, Counter Extremism Project
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