For many years, the Russian regime and its various mouthpieces have tried to paint Ukraine as a country dominated by neo-Nazis and fascists; Moscow has even dubbed the present war a “denazification” campaign. The claim, explains Oved Lobel, is doubly disingenuous:
Vladimir Putin reportedly dispatched over 400 operatives of [Russia’s] paramilitary proxy the Wagner group—which is replete with neo-Nazi members and traditions—to murder Ukraine’s Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Often referred to as a “Private Military Company” in media reports, all circumstantial and direct evidence has long since established that Wagner is merely a barely deniable arm of Russia’s Ministry of Defense. . . . Buildings in Libya occupied by Wagner were vandalized with Nazi slogans and symbols, while a tablet [computer] belonging to a Wagner operative revealed only two books related to politics: Mein Kampf and The International Jew. Investigations into the identity of Wagner fighters continuously turn up various strains of white supremacy, Nazism, and anti-Semitism.
And Wagner is far from Russia’s only neo-Nazi asset. Almost every major nationalist and racist violent extremist group in the world today, including those in Australia, got its start from the neo-Nazi Iron March forum, started by Alisher Mukhitdinov in Russia in 2011. . . . Russia provides training and safe haven for as many extremist groups as it can. On top of safe haven and training, the Kremlin funds and allies with far-right and neo-Nazi political parties across Europe and the world, which grants the Kremlin not only destabilizing political influence, but also the potential for state-backed neo-Nazi terrorism as a weapon against the West.