The Associated Press (AP) has released a series of photographs – as well as a video clip – purportedly showing several of Kiev’s fighters on the frontline in the Donetsk region. One of the soldiers, identified by the outlet as a Ukrainian unit commander named “Kurt”, can be seen wearing an ISIS (Islamic State) insignia on his left arm.
This isn’t the first time Kiev’s servicemen and paramilitaries have been caught on camera wearing extremist insignia, with many displaying Nazi tattoos or patches.
In fact, these have often been personally associated with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Earlier this week, he published several photos of Kiev’s soldiers on his Instagram account. One of the images featured a serviceman resting in a trench while wearing a ‘totenkopf’ (death’s head) skull patch – a symbol of the 3rd SS Tank Division, infamous for massacring civilians in France and the Eastern Front, including Polish Jews.
In May, Zelensky also shared an image of a soldier with a similar skull-head patch, but later deleted it. In October, he was photographed on a visit to the frontline while being surrounded by security guards wearing the same insignia.
Kiev has denied the presence of any neo-Nazi elements in the country’s military, bluntly dismissing such assertions as “Russian propaganda.”
Moscow, however, has repeatedly pointed to the fact that Kiev openly welcomes fighters with radical nationalistic and neo-Nazi views. One such example is the incorporation of the infamous Azov Regiment – which openly uses the SS-affiliated wolfsangel (wolf’s hook) rune as its official symbol – into Ukraine’s National Guard.