In the war between Ukraine and Russia, there are many Ukrainian civilians who are in the fray. And good number of these civilian fighters are Nazis. When it comes to Nazi paramilitaries in Ukraine, the common ones in the media are Azov and Right Sector. What has been spoken little about is how there are Nazi paramilitaries fighting for Ukraine against Russia. A recent report from EurAsia Daily states how “the 12th Special Forces Brigade of the National Guard, the Azov Regiment are fighting suicidal battles for their personnel. Late in the evening, Ukrainian punishers opened heavy fire on Hnutovo and Pishchevyk [two areas in Donbas] from heavy anti-tank grenade launchers.” The same report states how Azov fighters “block the roads in Mariupol, preventing the evacuation of civilians from the city, they kill on the streets of Mariupol everyone who is suspected of trying to escape from the city”. There is a video from Mariupol, filmed from a car, showing a Azov fighters stopping vehicles at a checkpoint. The fighters remove a couple from the vehicle and begin to physically detain them before the driver behind them — from where the camera is filming — hits the accelerator and escapes while Azov fighters fire at him:
But another Nazi paramilitary has recently come up called Centuria. This paramilitary, which is ran by the same people who run the Azov Battalion (it was founded Andriy Biletsky, former commander of Azov), is very active on Telegram where it posts photos of its gunmen:
These photos are captioned with these words:
“Today, the fighters of the Total Resistance of the Sicheslav region officially joined the ranks of the Troop!
Now we have weapons in our hands, and we have something to meet the infidels with! Join us in Pavlograd!”
Centuria, and other paramilitaries like them, are influenced by the teachings of Dmytro Dontsov, a 20th century Ukrainian nationalist who laid the ideological foundation for OUN (the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) who would butcher the Poles during the Second World War. Dontsov’s influence can be seen in Centuria’s Telegram account which puts a photo of Dontsov and a quote of his:
“A nation not led by a wise, noble and courageous leadership is a thoughtless flock, accessible to all foreign propaganda and infiltration.”
Donstov affirmed a Nietzschean paradigm of the “will to power” of the “strong man”; he also spoke in a Darwinian manner by writing that “Life makes him [right] who proves himself morally and physically stronger”. Dontsov praised the “amorality of the person of action”; in other words, those without morals will commit atrocious acts without any qualms.
He had a utopian vision of a small, elite group of superiors running society who have creative ways to committing violence; he wrote of “the principle of initiative-minority (superior people) and of creative violence”.
Centuria posts photos of their training:
In one particular photo you can see a Centuria member with a Germanic pagan Vegvísir symbol, which is used by pagan nationalists:
Although Centuria became prominent in 2020, it can be traced back to 2018 when a group
of cadets of the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy (NAA) joined the paramilitary. And in 2019, Centuria already had several members of the military and Ukrainian intelligence in its ranks.
According to a report by the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) in George Washington University, Centuria is ran by military officers who are “European traditionalist” and who aim to “defend” the “cultural and ethnic identity” of European peoples against “Brussels’s politicos and bureaucrats”. One of the members of Centuria, Kyrylo Dubrovskyi, took part in an 11-month officer training course at the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2020, as a cadet from the National Academy of Ground Forces (NAA). But, the Canadians claimed that they did not know that there were Nazis amongst the NAA cadets. Canadian Defence Attaché in Ukraine, Colonel Robert Foster, told IERES that any Nazis would have been removed from the training program:
“I think we are at a point where, in the event that we did find a Ukrainian that was expressing or showing signs of that type of attitude, then they would be ejected from any training that the Canadians would provide”
However, the report from IERES states that one NAA cadet was apparently active in the program as a firearms instructor with an Azov-linked far-Right group that, according to the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, was spreading antisemitic propaganda in 2021. There were also cadets at the academy who were photographed giving Nazi salutes. One member of Centuria told Ukrainian media outlet KP.ua in 2020 that both NAA and the General Staff were both “aware of the Order’s existence and have not voiced any opposition to efforts to form an elite core of officers.” The member explained that Centuria worked with numerous other military education institutions and armed forces units. Centuria members, as we read in the Jerusalem Post, “have also apparently held events on the premises of the Academy, including a lecture in 2018 which featured the recitation of a nationalistic text from before WWII.” The report from the IERES concluded: “The Ukrainian military’s failure to check Centuria activities suggests a level of tolerance on its part for the apparent proliferation of far-right ideology and influence within the Armed Forces of Ukraine”.
Centuria has been very active posting messages of recruitment on Telegram. For example, in the morning of February 26th, 2022, Centuria wrote:
“Hundreds of people joined our ranks during the first days of emergency mobilization. Groups of friends and singles, seniors and juniors, come. Veterans and people who pick up a machine gun for the first time come. All are different, but all of them are united by courage and faith in Ukraine. Men are super motivated and rush into battle!
Due to the large influx of people on the first day there were some difficulties with the number of weapons. However, this situation has been corrected and now it is enough!
We invite you to join our ranks! Currently, only a passport is required for registration. It is desirable to have armor (vest, helmet), sleeping bag and mat. It is necessary to have the desire to fight for the country with you. We invite anyone to the ATEK plant (Svyatoshin metro station, 53 Peremohy Ave.) at any time.
Glory to Ukraine!”
They also post videos, showing themselves off holding firearms:
In another post, Centuria talks about the importance of training, stating, “every minute of training is important” and how “If you have been planning to prepare, it is difficult to find a better time.” It then advertises for a training session with one Andriy Biletsky: “training on the initiative of Andriy Biletsky will take place on Saturday, February 26 at 10:30 on the street.” Looking up Bilestky, I read that he is described as a white nationalist far-Right politician and the leader of the political party, National Corps. He was also the first commander of the neo-Nazi paramilitary, Azov Battalion, and a co-founder of the fascist organization, the Social-National Assembly. Founded in 2008, the Social-National Assembly was an umbrella organization for numerous ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups, and its mission was “the protection of the white race by creating an anti-democratic and anti-capitalist ‘nationocracy’ system” and the eradication of “international Zionist speculative capital”. Bilestky stated in 2010 that it was Ukraine’s mission to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen”.
There is a video in which members of Centuria march in between two rows of flames, and a speaker — named Igor Mikhailenko — can be heard saying:
“Nations create units. In itself, a nation is a collection of people. But if there are units that are ready (to fight) for their faith, faith in something big, faith in an idea, then these units have every chance to do a great nation. Each of you is a unit that is ready to lead ten, a hundred, a thousand, tens of thousands into battle – a new battle of civilizations”
The speaker, Mikhailenko, was one of Biletsk’s closest associates in the organization, Patriot of Ukraine, where he was engaged in holding seminars. In 2011, Igor Mikhailenko, together with Andriy Biletsky and Vitaliy Knyazhesky, were arrested on charges of robbery and the attempted murder of Kharkiv journalist Sergey Kolesnik. Esteemed as a political prisoner, Mikhailenko was released in February of 2014 under the so-called “Maidan amnesty”. In the fall of 2014, Biletsky, who entered politics and became a deputy in Ukraine’s Parliament, appointed Mikhailenko to become the leader of the Azov National Guard Regiment, which was truly the Azov Battalion but integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard. In 2018 Mikhailenko became the head of the National Militia, a paramilitary that sprung out of the Azov Battalion. National Militia, on its own website, described their objective as such:
“This is an organization whose goal is to ensure order on the streets of Ukrainian cities. The personnel of the organization are former combatants, patriotic youth and caring citizens who share our desire to improve the security situation in the country”
Thus, if the war continues on in Ukraine, then we should expect to see the neo-Nazi strata raise its head and entrench itself further in the society, expanding its presence in the streets, with hands holding guns under the name of security. National Militia merged itself with Centuria which is led by Mikhailenko.
If we are going to talk about neo-Nazi paramilitaries in Ukraine, we cannot overstate how instrumental they were in most of the key battles against Russia’s proxies in Crimea and Donbas, such as the Battle of Mariupol, the Battle in Shakhtarsk Raion, the Battle of Ilovaisk, the Battle of Novoazovsk, the Offensive on Mariupol, the Second Battle of Donetsk Airport, the Shyrokyne standoff and the Battle of Marinka. The Ukrainian military was undertrained and underfunded, and was weak against the pro-Russian fighters. Numerous paramilitaries, with private funding, rose up, with Azov being the most important. While Azov openly presented their radical ideology, their significant involvement in most of the conflict’s major battles placed the group right into a prominent position on both Ukrainian defense and politics. Azov became an official unit within the Ukrainian National Guard, its leader, Biletsky, would become a member of Parliament from 2014 to 2019 and Far-Right fighters became components of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. As the report from the Zvezda Weekly reads: “Already in 2014, Biletsky, who was recently on trial for organizing an assassination attempt and riots with human casualties (in March 2014), became a police lieutenant colonel (!!!) and a people’s deputy.”
Centuria likes to revere certain aspects of ancient Rome, and this is due to Biletsky’s own fascination. Their motto is “Aut Caesar, Aut nihil”, which means “Either all or nothing” in Latin, a saying from the Emperor Caligula. Such an interest in ancient Rome is not surprising, since movements like the Alt-Right or white nationalism see themselves as the defenders of “the West”, and thus the preservers of Roman civilization. They uphold the Roman eagle and revere the warrior ethic of the Roman military. The symbol of Centuria is the Roman eagle, as you can see here:
A source close to Biletsky stated:
“It happened: you invite Andrei [Biletsky] to discuss some local problem on a national level, and he translates everything to the level of the history of civilizations, most often with a reference to Ancient Rome and its many wars. He is very interested in this topic”.
Ukrainian ultra-nationalists follow an amalgamation of ideologies known as “Ukrainian integral nationalism” (UIN), what is described by the Zvezda Weekly as such:
“What kind of ideology is this? As the “founding fathers” of the UIN put it, ‘a compilation of German National Socialism and Italian fascism, adapted for Western Ukrainian realities’ of 1920-1930.”
During the Second World War, many of the Ukrainian fascists were a part of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the SS Galicia Division. During the Cold War, the very Ukrainian Nazis who were slaughtering Poles for the Third Reich, would then become operatives for the CIA. According to Zvezda Weekly, such ultra-nationalists were “actively used by the CIA and other special services to fight the USSR.” If such butchers were used by the Americans against the Soviets, then what is to say that Ukrainian Nazis of today would not be used to fight Russia?