Western media outlets have been peddling “military training” imagery featuring 79-year-old Valentyna Konstantynovska, aka “Granny Valentyna,” amidst the consistent pro-war coverage of Ukraine and Russia. Now, it has emerged, the images of the elderly lady in training were actually organized by the nation’s avowedly Neo-Nazi paramilitary, the ‘Azov Battalion’.
Konstantynovska featured on the front pages of a number of Western newspapers in the past week, including The Financial Times, the Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Independent – all UK-based papers or news sites. The sabre-rattling stories have also hit Israel’s Haaretz, America’s Fox News, and the Irish Times.
The photographs and media released over the past week show the senior citizen amongst others undergoing weapons and first aid training in the city of Mariupol in south-east Ukraine. The event appears to have been organized and promoted by the Azov Battalion, which formed in 2014 as a volunteer paramilitary organization before integrating into Ukraine’s formal military forces. In late 2021, the Biden regime proposed sending upwards of $300 million to Ukraine’s military, potentially aiding the Azov Battalion.
A spokesman for the group has attempted to dissuade American politicians from stopping funding for the entity, claiming that only one in five of the unit’s members are actual Neo-Nazis. Their efforts, especially with the Biden government, appear to have paid off.
In the middle of the coverage of the group’s training propaganda was NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.
Engel actively promoted the stunt, interviewing the 79-year-old Granny Valentyna as she learned to use an AK-47.
“If Putin comes, I should be able to shoot. The threat is very serious. I think every person in our country should be able to shoot from the window or on the street if the enemy comes,” she told media outlets, further normalizing the threat of war between Ukraine and Russian forces.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 14, 2022
ABC 7 in New York also covered the story under the banner, “Ukraine special forces offer training to civilians.”
In a video posted to Twitter, the Nazi insignia of the group is clearly visible on the right arm of the soldier training a Ukrainian child.
Other videos surfaced of the training, including one captioned “The Azov Regiment explains to the people of Mariupol how to avoid danger.” Again, the Wolfsangel insignia – popularized by the Nazi Party in Germany during the Second World War – is clear on the uniforms of those performing the training.
Nebezpečí min. Pluk Azov vysvětluje obyvatelům Mariupolu, jak se vyvarovat nebezoečí. pic.twitter.com/qBe9GxoFXf
— Martin Dorazín (@mdorazin) February 13, 2022
Czech media reports and Twitter users alike have argued that the training is part of an ongoing propaganda campaign by the Battalion, which is keen to stoke war for its own benefit.
The Guardian reported that the Azov Battalion has been fighting Russian separatists for at least seven years, calling them the “most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against separatists.”
“It’s fascinating, as they say, how an Azov-Nazi Granny propaganda photo op managed to slip past the vast billion-dollar network of US-UK disinformation-fighting NGOs, media fact-checkers, online Nazi hunters, Bellingcats etc, all supposedly set up to protect us from exactly this.” war-podcaster Mark Ames tweeted.
In 2013, then-Senator John McCain posed alongside Neo-Nazis in his failed efforts to sabre-rattle for war against Russia while forcing Ukraine into the European Union. The European Union’s influence waned in the Brexit years that followed, deferring their imperialist intentions for nearly a decade.
The news represents the latest infiltration of propaganda to Western media by a foreign group. The Chinese Communist Party has consistently worked their influence into Western media, with a long list of outlets participating in Chinese propaganda events.