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United States will not train paramilitary pro-Ukrainian forces

The US House of Representatives unanimously passed amendments that bar the US from training the Ukrainian paramilitary militia Azov Battalion, which is fighting for the Ukrainian government in the ongoing conflict with separatists in the east of the country. The amendments also prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles (MANPADS) to Ukraine.

Representative John Conyers, Jr., who pushed for the bill, said “if there’s one simple lesson we can take away from US involvement in conflicts overseas, it’s this: Beware of unintended consequences.”

“I am grateful that the House of Representatives unanimously passed my amendments last night to ensure that our military does not train members of the repulsive neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, along with my measures to keep the dangerous and easily trafficked MANPADs out of these unstable regions.”

Congressman John Conyers, Jr.

The bill also prevents the US from training paramilitary forces or distributing MANPADS in Iraq.

The Azov Battalion in Ukraine is a volunteer militia made up of roughly 1,000 people, fighting on the side of government forces against separatists in the Donbas. Some of its members are right-wing activists from European countries.

Foreign Policy magazine has characterized it as “openly neo-Nazi” and “fascist,” while the Telegraph called members “openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced earlier that Azov troops would be among the first units to be trained by the US in an operation called Fearless Guardian. This prompted significant international concern.

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