MSNBC report on Russia-Ukraine conflict features Ukrainian neo-Nazi militant group training civilians

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A report that aired on MSNBC featured an infamous Ukrainian neo-Nazi group training civilians for combat as tensions over a possible Russian invasion grow. 

On Monday’s “Morning Joe,” NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel led a report on the ground about some communities in Ukraine “are taking matters into their own hands,” showing militants in a training session in a room filled with civilians, calling it “basic training for the whole family.” Engel’s report highlighted a 79-year-old “great grandmother” learning how to use a rifle. 

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However, as pointed out by Aaron Maté of the Useful Idiot podcast, the militants belong to the Azov Battalion as indicated by the insignia on their uniforms. 

The Azov Battalion insignia featured on the uniforms of Ukrainian militants training civilians for a potential Russian invasion, as featured in an MSNBC report.

The Azov Battalion insignia featured on the uniforms of Ukrainian militants training civilians for a potential Russian invasion, as featured in an MSNBC report.
(MSNBC)

The Azov Battalion is a far-right volunteer force that was banned by Congress to receive any U.S. foreign aid over what the FBI determined was its ties to neo-Nazi ideologies. 

The group’s logo features the Wolfsangel, one of the symbols used by the Nazi army during World War II. 

The same militants were featured on numerous MSNBC programs including “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The 11th Hour” but Engel’s reports no longer showcased the Azov Battalion insignia on the uniform like it did on “Morning Joe.” 

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Engel’s story of the Ukrainian great grandmother being trained by the militants was also featured on “NBC Nightly News.”

“Here is Richard Engel doing PR for a neo-Nazi militia without any shame,” Maté said Monday. “And, you know, we hear all the time there’s all this concern in the US about fascism and extremism. Well, here you have this mainstream network doing straight-up propaganda for a neo-Nazi militia.

MSNBC nor NBC News did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment. 

The American Conservative contributing editor Sohrab Ahmari similarly highlighted how other news outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Library, the US-funded organization that broadcasts and reports news to Europe, ran a story Monday about “Ukrainian Children and Pensioners Get Ready to Defend Their Country.”

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According to Ahmari, the story was deleted and then re-uploaded Tuesday with the new headline, “Far-Right Ukrainian Military Unit Teaches Children And Pensioners To Defend Their Country” and included an update noting the connection to the Azov Battalion. 

A spokesperson for Radio Free Europe/Radio Library told Fox News its original report was sourced to the Associated Press and that “once RFE/RL editors became aware of the problem, the report was taken down and corrected, with a text explanation for why the update was needed. End of story.”

The Associated Press did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. 

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