The National Guard of Ukraine has shared a video on its Twitter account that appears to show Azov fighters greasing bullets with pig fat, ostensibly to be used against against Muslim Chechens deployed to their country as Russia steps up its military assault on Ukraine.
Azov, a far-right all-volunteer infantry military unit, are ultra-nationalists who are accused of harbouring neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology. They first fought alongside the Ukrainian army in the east of the country in 2014 against pro-Russia separatists and have since been incorporated into the regular armed forces.
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In the video, which could not be independently verified by Al Jazeera, a man who is purportedly a member of the Azov fighters is seen dipping bullets into what appears to be pig fat as he addresses the Chechen fighters.
He says: “Dear Muslim brothers. In our country, you will not go to heaven. You will not be allowed into heaven. Go home, please. Here, you will encounter trouble. Thank you for your attention, goodbye.”
Azov fighters of the National Guard greased the bullets with lard against the Kadyrov orcs👊
Бійці Азова Нацгвардії змастили кулі салом проти кадировських орків👊
— НГУ (@ng_ukraine) February 27, 2022
Despite being integrated into the official military, Azov fighters have reportedly continued to wear the Wolfsangel insignia used by a number of Nazi divisions during WWII.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has referenced the presence of such units within the Ukrainian military as a reason for launching his so-called “special military operation … to de-militarise and de-Nazify Ukraine”.
The Russian military in a press briefing has also claimed that “Nazi Battalions” form a significant part of the resistance to their offensive.
On Saturday, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region and a Putin ally, said that Chechen fighters had been deployed in Ukraine and urged Ukrainians to overthrow their government.
A short video published by the state-backed Russian news channel RT, which it said was from Friday, showed thousands of Chechen fighters gathered in the main square of the region’s capital Grozny in a show of readiness to fight in Ukraine.
Kadyrov has often described himself as Putin’s “foot soldier” – Chechen forces have previously been deployed in Syria and Georgia – and his words echoed those of the Russian leader who on Friday urged Ukrainians to rise up against their own government, which he said was made up of “neo-Nazis”. Ukrainian officials strongly reject that description.