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Azov is multiethnic regiment united by love for Ukraine: former Azov commander

Maksym Zhorin, the former commander of the Ukrainian National Guard’s Azov Regiment, a military formation that has become famous for its brave defence of Mariupol, told TVP World that with many ethnicities and religions represented by its members, racism is absent in the military formation whose sole binder is the love for Ukraine and the task of liberating it.

“Nowadays we can say that Azov has become a more complicated structure due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Before the invasion, Azov was a separate military unit in Mariupol. It’s the same heroic unit that defended Azovstal [steelworks]. Unfortunately, soldiers who were defending it, are still in Russian captivity,” Mr Zhorin said.

“Veterans of Azov, we consider ourselves a family. Even when someone is retired, we stay in touch with each other. Since the outbreak of the war, veterans have started organising their own subdivisions. They were established in Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kyiv and in Volhynia. The biggest one was in Kyiv for 2,000 people,” TVP World’s guest said.

“These kinds of units are in the National Guard, Armed Forces of Ukraine, Territorial Defence, and even in territorial intelligence, so in all military units defending Ukraine, there are subdivisions of Azov… That’s why, as a family, there are more subdivisions than one,” Mr Zhorin said, stressing that “however, the main subdivision is the one, which was in Mariupol. It was and it remains the most professional, the most motivated and the strongest subdivision.”

“Now we are not working only to gain victory on the front but also to release all our defenders who were temporarily held in captivity,” he stressed.

United by love for Ukraine

Having delineated the story of the Azov Regiment that dates back to the Revolution of Dignity of February 18-23, 2014, Mr Zhorin said that the first major battle of the unit took place in 2014 in Mariupol. “I participated in that fight in an attack aircraft. There were two groups that liberated the centre of the city. I was the platoon leader and company commander, and later the battalion commander. In 2017, I led the regiment as its commander.”

Responding to a question of allegations of neo-Nazi tendencies within Azov being part of its ideology, Mr Zhorin said that “fortunately, nowadays we [the Azov Regiment] don’t need to give any comment because the whole world has seen the truth – the truth about Russia and the truth about Azov. For those eight years, Russia has been investing resources in their supporters who had to demonise us. However, the reality is different. We’ve seen that the only representatives of Fascism and Neo-Nazism are Russians. Azov was and remains the unit that defends Ukraine and desires to liberate it. Any other issues are not included. We really love our homeland and are ready to perform tasks which demand our actions.

We have never thought about an occupation of other lands and we have never thought about racism or religious differences. Moreover, I can tell you, that in our regiment, there are people from different countries. There are Georgians, Belarusians, and Jews, and the question of religion has never been brought up. There’s one issue that unites us – love of Ukraine and the desire to liberate it,” the former commander of the Azov Regiment said.

If you want to hear what was the most spectacular action that the Azov Regiment pulled off during its 2022 defence of Mariupol, click the video above.

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