Let us begin with my lede, we shall answer the question posed by my title, and then circle back to this point later. In a word, No. The Azov Nazis were not good fighters. Executive summary:
In 2014, after the Maidan coup, the citizens of Mariupol overwhelmingly voted in a referendum to split off from Ukraine and join Russia. The response of the new coup government was to send in the Nazis to terrorize the people and keep them in line. For the next 8 years the Azov Battalion set up its criminal HQ in Mariupol, these guys behaved basically like a criminal gang (one might call them the “Aryan Brotherhood”) extorting all the local businesses and terrorizing the civilians, whom they regarded as enemies. The hatred between the locals and the Azov was mutual, which was why the Azovs never could break out of their fortress prison in individual groups, they knew the locals would turn them over to the Russians without a second glance, if they should find some ofthem wandering around the countryside.
During their 8-year Reign of Terror the Azov Nazis murdered, tortured and raped the local civilians while building a lucrative criminal empire on the port trade. They made the Sicilian Mafia look like boy scouts. After the Russians invaded, the Azovs holed up in schools and hospitals, setting up their artillery, literally using civilians as human shields. Which is why the Russians were forced to destroy so much civilian infrastructure. The Azovs wouldn’t fight like men, they wouldn’t allow the civilians to leave in humanitarian corridors, because they didn’t want to be left alone, mano a mano, with real soldiers. Preferring to hide behind women and children.
In the end, they turned out to be bad fighters, even worse tacticians, and were overcome, within a month or so, by much less numerous and worse-equipped Separatist troops. After which these Nazis fled into the AzovSteel bunker and hid out like rats until they ran out of food.
I realize that all of the above sounds very harsh and mean, but it can be backed up, see below the Khodakovsky interview.
But What About The Plot Twists?
Next: a couple of bullet points to (hopefully) wrap up this Mariupol subplot of the main story arc in Season 4 of the Ukrainian soap opera Servant of the People.
- So, what about those famous Western dignitaries whom the helicopters were trying to rescue from the Steel Plant? Will we finally get to learn their names? Honest answer is: I don’t know. We were all waiting to gasp with appreciation at the cleverness of the plot twist, once the mystery man (or woman) was revealed. Like, OMG it was Hunter Biden all along! What a whammy! Such clever writers! I saw Alex Mercouris’ podcast a couple of days ago, his opinion is that there never was a celebrity in there. Which means those helicopters and their constant suicide missions were going after nobody. Or at least, nobody that we viewers care about.
Jibing with that theory, I saw this piece by reporter Anton Antonov. The title is misleading: “Zelensky talks about the failure of Ukrainian aviation.” But that is not what it’s about. It’s about the numerous attempts to rescue these theoretical “dignitaries” from the steel plant.
So, Ukrainian TV showed a fragment of an interview timed for the third anniversary of Zelensky’s inauguration. In this [interview] the President of the Ukraine declared: “A very large number of men died, our pilots, unfortunately.” He explained that the pilots were trying to fly in medicines, food, water; and to evacuate the wounded and dead [from Asovsteel].
Zelensky admitted that these evacuation attempts were a big failure, but his excuse was unassailable: “It was virtually impossible to reach Azovsteel, since there were no air corridors, due to the sheer power of Russian anti-air.”
In my view, Zelensky’s words partially corroborate Mercouris’ hypothesis. Unless people assume that Zel is lying, and that the helicopters were, all the same, trying to evacuate some celebrities. In lieu of any proof for that (yet), my current personal belief is that they actually were just trying to evacuate the regular Azov leaders. Because the latter were still considered super-important. These leaders are now in Russian hands, and they don’t seem all that big and important any more; but I reckon they were beloved at the time; enough beloved that a score of helicopters and pilots was sacrificed for their sake.
But wait, here is the really interesting twist! I believe that Zelensky still fears Azov, even though most of them have been rounded up; but there must still be some of them, or their Nazi friends, close enough to the throne, and he still fears them. Why else would he publicly admit such a failure? Because he fears these guys enough that needs them to know (and believe) that he wasted helicopters and pilots trying to save their comrades. This is to mollify them, so they won’t accuse him of betraying their comrades. As in: “You see, I did all that I could, even sent scores of valuable pilots to their deaths!” Will the Nazis be satisfied with Zelensky’s big excuse? Only time will tell.
- Next bullet point: Were these Azov Nazis at the very least good soldiers (before they surrendered)? Or were they over-rated. It is commonplace to refer to them as “elite” fighters, like they were the crème de la crème, in the words of Miss Jean Brodie. Oh, I’m sure some of them are/were competent enough, for example the sappers, the snipers, some of the other specialties. But what about the bulk of them? Frankly, some of their opponents were underwhelmed. I saw this piece by reporter Dmitry Steshin, who interviews Alexander Khodakovsky, a DPR commander. Khodakovsky fought against, and defeated, the Azovites in Mariupol. He knows them very well, as only an enemy can initimately know another enemy. Many warriors come to respect their enemies (Achilles and Hector come to mind.) But this is not one of those examples. This post is already too long, so I’ll break down the Khodakovsky interview in a separate segment, look for it tomorrow. [to be continued]
Pictures At An Exhibition
But to end on an artistic note: The reason why God created tattoos was to make it easier for the cops to ID criminals. Please watch the video below. I realize it was an outrageous violation of their human rights when Russian MPs forced Azov POWs to lift up their shirts and show their tats. Surely the Geneva Convention forbids this. But there is a reason why police around the world keep databases of these things. Cops know that criminals, for whatever reason, are driven to brand themselves in a rather permanent way. Me, if I was a criminal, I’d be an intelligent criminal, not a moron, and I’d just get one of those wash-off tats.
Anyhow, for those who like classy artwork, some of these tats truly deserve their own exhibition at the Hermitage! My personal favorite is the full-length Adolph Hitler in all his regalia.