Ukrainian units of Azov Movement became one of the main symbols of the resistance against Russian occupation and invasion.
The story of Azov Movement has started in February 2014, when Andriy Biletskyi, the leader of Patriot of Ukraine organization, formed Black Corps to protect Kharkiv. The group was one of the main factors why the Russian seizure of power in the city failed.
In May 2014, Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs decided to form volunteer battalions to help Ukrainian Army to counter Russian invasion of Donbas. Black Corps detachment was legalized, and Azov Battalion was created. The unit was formed by members of Patriot of Ukraine, Automaidan and football ultras. The commander of the unit was Andriy Biletskyi.
Andriy Biletskiy during the liberation of Mariupol (2014) and near Bakhmut (2023)
In 2015, former members of Azov Battalion created Azov Civilian Corps, a socio-political movement to fight internal enemies. National Corps, a political party, was formed on the basis of Azov Civilian Corps by Andriy Biletsky in 2016. The political party was a direct successor of Patriot of Ukraine.
In 2017, National Corps formed its own paramilitary wing called National Druzhina. The members became the main force for street confrontation with the police during mass gatherings and the group was considered as the most radical part of Azov Movement. The organization was rebranded as Centuria in 2020.
12th Azov Assault Brigade (National Guard of Ukraine)
Azov Brigade is a military unit of Ukrainian National Guard, and is the original Azov combat formation. The unit was created by Andriy Biletsky as Azov Battalion of Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and later reformed as regiment under the command of 12th Operational Brigade of National Guard. The unit participated in the liberation of Mariupol (2014), battle of Ilovaysk (2014), Shyrokyne (2015) and the defense of Mariupol (2022), where the unit after months of fighting was forced to surrender, but didn’t stop to exist. In 2023, 12th Azov Assault Brigade of National Guard was formed on the remnants of Azov Regiment. The commander, since July 2017, is Lt. Col. Denis Prokopenko.
To make things as simple as possible, we refer to this unit as Azov Regiment below.
3rd Assault Brigade (Armed Forces of Ukraine)
3rd Assault Brigade is a unit of Ukrainian Ground Forces, formed in March 2022 on the basis of Territorial Defense unit Azov, later known as SSO Azov-Kyiv. The territorial defense unit was formed during the first hours of Russian full-scale invasion by Andriy Biletsky and other Azov Regiment veterans. The unit participated in the defense of Kyiv, liberation of Kherson and the defense of Bakhmut. 72 soldiers of the unit also volunteered and were transported by helicopter to Mariupol to rotate fellow soldiers from Azov Regiment. In January, as part of the reformation from SSO Azov-Kyiv to 3rd Assault Brigade, 98th Territorial Defense Battalion Azov-Dnipro was included into the unit, including 3rd Company formed from the members of Centuria. The commander of 3rd Assault Brigade is Col. Andriy Biletsky.
Detachment Albin (Territorial Defense Forces)
Albin was formed by Chernivtsi branch of National Corps, nationalists from Bukovyna and volunteers from the Carpathian Mountains. Since the start of Russian full-scale invasion, the unit ensured public order in Chernivtsi, but later left to defend the capital and eventually to the east. Albin detachment is part of 107th Territorial Defense Brigade.
Special Purpose Unit Lyubart (Special Operations Forces)
Lyubart was formed by Azov veterans and members of Centuria movement from Volyn Oblast during the first hours of war. Most of the unit was stationed in Lutsk and was preparing for a possible attack from Belarus. When it became clear there is no immediate danger from the north, they went to defend Kyiv. In May 2022, the unit was integrated into the Armed Forces of Ukraine – Special Operations Forces branch. Commander of Lyubart is Vadym Krykun, veteran of Azov Regiment and the head of Volyn branch of National Corps.
Kraken Detachment (Main Intelligence Directorate)
Kraken is a unit formed by veterans of Azov Regiment, officers of Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate and volunteers from Kharkiv. The unit was created on the basis of Azov Territorial Defense Unit in Kharkiv, later known as 225th Reconnaissance Battalion of 127th Territorial Defense Brigade. Commander and founder of Kraken Detachment is Kostyantyn Nemichev, former soldier of Azov Regiment and the head of Kharkiv branch of National Corps.
Azov-Kharkiv (Kraken Detachment)
Azov-Kharkiv is a second Azov unit from Kharkiv. The unit was formed on the basis of Azov Territorial Defense Unit in Kharkiv, later known as 226th Reconaissance-Sabotage Battalion of 127th Territorial Defense Brigade. Commander and founder of Azov-Kharkiv is Sherhii Velichko, veteran of Azov Regiment and one of the founders of Kharkiv branch of National Corps. Azov-Kharkiv is part of Kraken Detachment.
Police Company East (Special Police Force Units)
East Company is a unit of Special Police Patrol Service, formed in May 2018 in Kharkiv Oblast under the command Serhey Tamarin, a veteran of Azov Regiment. The company participated in the defense of Kharkiv in February 2022.