The infamous Azov nationalist regiment, which is being revived by Ukraine after it surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol, has removed the Nazi-linked Wolfsangel symbol from its insignia, The Times reported on Monday.
According to the British paper, the unit’s new recruits in the city of Kharkov were sporting patches with a golden trident, which is Ukraine’s national emblem, thereby replacing the Wolfsangel or ‘wolf’s hook’ which had been used by the Azov Battalion since its formation eight years ago.
However, the commander of the new unit, Maksim Zhorin, told that paper that it was formed “on the same principles and ideological basis as the legendary Azov regiment.”
The Wolfsangel is a historic heraldic symbol that was chosen by the Nazis during World War II and appeared on the insignia of several SS divisions.
The Times said that the presence of the Wolfsangel on the uniforms of the Azov fighters had “helped perpetuate Russian propaganda about Ukraine being in the grip of far-right nationalism.”
However, before the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, the use of Nazi symbolism by the unit had been raising concerns in the Western media, including outlets such as Time magazine and the New York Times.
The Azov Battalion was assembled in 2014 as a volunteer unit that was mainly comprised of far-right activists willing to fight against the self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass region. Several months later, it was officially incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard by order of then president Petro Poroshenko.
When the Russian offensive started, the Azov Battalion, which had received Western training, was considered one of the most capable formations under Kiev’s command.