Biden to Lift Ban on Ukrainian Unit Using US Weapons

Servicemen of the 12th Special Forces Brigade Azov of the National Guard of Ukraine fire a howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine April 5, 2024. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Servicemen of the 12th Special Forces Brigade Azov of the National Guard of Ukraine fire a howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine April 5, 2024. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Biden to Lift Ban on Ukrainian Unit Using US Weapons

Servicemen of the 12th Special Forces Brigade Azov of the National Guard of Ukraine fire a howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine April 5, 2024. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Servicemen of the 12th Special Forces Brigade Azov of the National Guard of Ukraine fire a howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine April 5, 2024. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

The Biden administration will lift its ban on allowing a controversial Ukrainian military unit to use US weapons, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing State Department officials.

The State Department reversed a decade-old prohibition on the Azov Brigade from using American training and weapons after a new analysis found no evidence of human rights violations by the unit, the Post reported.

"After thorough review, Ukraine’s 12th Special Forces Azov Brigade passed Leahy vetting as carried out by the US Department of State,” the State Department said in a statement obtained by the newspaper, according to Reuters.

The Leahy Law bars US military assistance to foreign units found to have committed such violations.

The Azov Regiment, which has far-right and ultra-nationalist roots, is part of Ukraine's National Guard and evolved out of a battalion that was formed in 2014 and fought against Russian-backed separatists who carved out breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

The regiment is lionized in Ukraine for defending the country against Russia's invasion and in particular the southern city of Mariupol, but they are reviled by Russian President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin.



Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
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Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)

Internet and mobile data services are still down despite apparent calm in Bangladesh following a verdict that scaled back a controversial quota system for government jobs after weeks of relentless protests that turned deadly.
The government has also declared Monday a public holiday, with only essential services running. This comes after a curfew with a shoot-on-sight order was installed days earlier and military personnel could be seen patrolling the capital and other areas, The Associated Press said.
The South Asian country witnessed clashes between the police and mainly student protesters demanding an end to a quota that reserved 30% of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.
The violence has killed more than a hundred people, according to at least four local newspapers. Authorities have not so far shared official figures for deaths. On Thursday, communications were cut off as tensions escalated.
There was no immediate violence reported on Monday morning after the Supreme Court ordered the veterans’ quota to be cut to 5%, with 93% of jobs allocated on merit, the day before. The remaining 2% will be set aside for members of ethnic minorities as well as transgender and disabled people.
On Sunday night, some student protesters urged the government to restore internet services. Hasnat Abdullah, a coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, told the Associated Press that they were withdrawing their calls for a complete shutdown, which they attempted to impose last week.
“But we are issuing an ultimatum for 48 hours to stop the digital crackdown and restore internet connectivity,” he said, adding that security officials deployed at various universities should be withdrawn, student dormitories reopened and steps taken so students can return to their campuses safely. Abdullah also said they wanted the government to end the curfew and ensure the country was back to normal within two days.
Students have also demanded some university officials to step down after failing to protect campuses. Sarjis Alam, another coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, said that they would continue with their protests if all their demands weren't met. “We cannot step back from our movement like a coward,” he added.
Another key organizer of the student protests, Nahid Islam, told reporters that the internet shutdown had disrupted their ability to communicate and alleged that authorities were trying to create divisions among protesters. “I am mentally traumatized ... our unity is being destroyed,” he said.
The US Embassy in the capital Dhaka described Sunday the situation as “extremely volatile” and “unpredictable,” adding that guns, tear gas and other weapons have been used in the vicinity of the embassy. They said the Bangladeshi army had been deployed and urged Americans to be vigilant, avoid large crowds and reconsider travel plans.
The protests have posed the most serious challenge to Bangladesh’s government since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won a fourth consecutive term in January elections that the main opposition groups boycotted. Universities have been closed, the internet has been shut off and the government has ordered people to stay at home.
Protesters had argued the quota system was discriminatory and benefited supporters of Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and wanted it replaced by a merit-based system. Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect regardless of political affiliation.
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has backed the protests, vowing to organize its own demonstrations as many of its supporters joined the student-led protests.
The Awami League and the BNP have often accused each other of fueling political chaos and violence, most recently ahead of the country’s national election, which was marred by a crackdown on several opposition figures.