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11 Jan, 2024 18:20

US neo-Nazis giving up on Ukraine – Guardian

For many American extremists, the risks reportedly outweigh the rewards
US neo-Nazis giving up on Ukraine – Guardian

Ukraine has gone from “a destination for American extremists” to a lost cause, the Guardian said on Thursday, citing chatter on social networks and texts from two US neo-Nazi activists.

Chatter about Ukraine has “all but evaporated” in the “wider web of neo-Nazi militancy,” according to the British outlet, noting that they see little value in sending men to fight for Kiev “with too high a risk of death or arrest upon return.”

The Guardian cited an audio message by Christopher Pohlhaus, a former US Marine who now leads the ‘Blood Tribe’ group. In a message posted in November, Pohlhaus brought up a personal feud with Denis Nikitin – a Russian-born neo-Nazi in Ukrainian service – as the reason for a change of course.

“I will still continue to support the struggle of the people there,” Pohlhaus said, but “I’m not going to allow our guys, my guys’ efforts and blood to go towards” the conflict in Ukraine. He confirmed the authenticity of the recording in a text message to the Guardian.

“I think our guys can find adequate training elsewhere without risking their lives in Ukraine,” Rinaldo Nazzarro of the international neo-Nazi organization The Base told the Guardian in a series of texts. He added that the conflict was between forces that do have “our best interests in mind.”

By contrast, the Guardian noted, European neo-Nazis are more concerned about “unchecked Russian imperialism” and consider English-speakers to be misinformed. The Anglosphere “is a different kind of echo chamber where mostly Kremlin propaganda dominates,” according to a post on what the UK outlet described as a prominent European neo-Nazi account on Telegram, dated March 2023.

“Note that a lot of our guys have been on the frontlines themselves, and everybody here at least knows somebody who has,” the post also said.

Russia has accused the Ukrainian government of embracing a neo-Nazi ideology, pointing to the Wehrmacht and SS symbols adopted by many of Kiev’s military units as proof. For example, the notorious ‘Azov’ militia adopted the Wolfsangel rune used by the 2nd SS Panzer Division ‘Das Reich’ in WWII, and the Black Sun logo beloved by SS leader Heinrich Himmler. The Ukrainian military has also painted German-style ‘Balkenkreuz’ crosses on its tanks and armored vehicles. 

Ukraine and its Western backers, however, insisted that the alleged presence of neo-Nazis in Kiev’s ranks was nothing more than “Russian propaganda,” going so far as to sanitize their previous coverage of groups like ‘Azov.’