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US authorises supply of weapons to Azov brigade

The National Guard unit will finally have access to American weapons. 

US authorises supply of weapons to Azov brigade
Photo: AZOV

The Washington Post reports that the administration of US President Joe Biden has lifted the ban on the use of its weapons by the Azov Brigade, which is part of the National Guard, which has been in effect for almost a decade.

Journalists claim that the US State Department has checked the military unit for compliance with the criteria of the Leahy amendments, a US law that prohibits the supply of weapons to foreign groups that have committed human rights crimes. Officials found no signs of violations, so it was decided to lift the restrictions.

The State Department source did not say when the ban was lifted. It is also unclear whether the Azov Brigade has already received US weapons. 

In addition to US equipment, the brigade will also be able to participate in training and exercises organised by the Pentagon. 

The Leahy Law

Section 620M of the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 is also known as the Leahy Law. In 2021, the Ukrainian government pledged not to allocate any assistance received from the United States under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 or the Arms Export Control Act or derivative legislation to any unit of the Ukrainian security forces that has been notified by the United States Government through diplomatic channels that it is prohibited from receiving such assistance under the Leahy Law.

This law was applied against the Ukrainian Azov in 2017, and the soldiers could not receive US aid. Denys Prokopenko, commander of the 12th Azov Special Forces Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine, wrote in an op-ed on UP that "all the main accusations against Azov have been repeatedly refuted on the basis of facts on the web and in the media". 

Since the law was passed in 1997, US assistance has been blocked for hundreds of units around the world accused of rights violations. 

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