Russia says steel plant defenders are terrorists
The Russian Supreme Court on Tuesday labeled about 1,000 members of the Azov Regiment, who defended a steel plant in Mariupol and are in Russian custody, as terrorists. Its leaders could face 15 to 20 years in prison, while members of the regiment could face five to 10 years of jail time, according to Russian state media. Russian authorities have accused some of the regiment of killing civilians, for which they face criminal charges. The Azov Regiment responded that the Kremlin’s announcement is simply an attempt to justify its own war crimes, and urged the United States and other countries to deem Russia a terrorist state.
What is the Azov Regiment? The military organization, which is a part of Ukraine’s National Guard, has a checkered history. It grew out of a group called the Azov Battalion, formed in 2014 to fight Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Azov Battalion drew most of its initial members from far-right sources and faced criticism for some of its tactics. The Azov Regiment’s current iteration rejects accusations of extremism, and the Azov soldiers and other defenders at the steel plant have been regarded as Ukrainian heroes. Russian state media, however, has repeatedly portrayed it as a Nazi group.
Dig deeper: Read Mindy Belz’s report in WORLD Magazine about Anne Applebaum’s book Red Famine, which details Joseph Stalin’s attempt to eradicate Ukraine through famine.
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