Ukraine's Azov soldiers burn Viking longboat to honour comrades

Ukraine's Azov soldiers burn Viking longboat to honour comrades

December 27, 2022

Thousands of soldiers from Ukraine’s Azov regiment gather to watch a Viking longboat burn at ceremony in memory of their fallen comrades

  • Soldiers gathered in Rivne to watch a replica Drakkar ship go up in flames
  • Thousands watched on as part of the tribute to the soldiers killed by Russia
  • The imagery harks back to when Ukraine’s territory was controlled by Vikings
  • Read more: the Kremlin’s bizarre predictions for 2023 

Thousands of Ukraine’s Azov soldiers have performed a traditional viking longboat burning ceremony to honour their fallen comrades killed by Russian troops.

The battalion, whose final stand fiercely defending the Azovstal steel plant in the Siege of Mariupol drew praise from around the world, gathered in the Rivne region of Ukraine for the touching tribute.

Stunning images show a replica of a Drakkar viking ship going up in flames on the river as row upon row of soldiers look on solemnly.

Former commander Maxim Zhorin said at the ceremony: ‘In the flames, our Fallen are symbolically sent in a drakkar to another world, Valhalla or Vyrii.’

Thousands of Ukraine’s Azov soldiers have performed a traditional viking longboat burning ceremony to honour their fallen comrades killed by Russian troops

In Norse mythology, Valhalla is an afterlife populated by heroes who die in combat.

Before the establishment of Ukraine, its territory was part of Kievan Rus’ from the 9th to 13th centuries.

The state was invaded by the Varangians, a group of marauding Vikings from Sweden who went on to rule Kievan Rus’ until the 11th century.

The Azov regiment often harks back to this Viking iconography, which also presents their soldiers as fierce warriors.

In a post on their Telegram channel, the battalion said: ‘The military fraternity, consisting of various units, including the Azov OZSP, held a ceremony to honour the memory of the Azov people who died in battle.

‘Every year on the Day of the Dead, we remember all Azov residents who died for the independence of Ukraine in battle with weapons in their hands. 

The battalion, whose final stand fiercely defending the Azovstal steel plant in the Siege of Mariupol drew praise from around the world, gathered in the Rivne region of Ukraine for the touching tribute

Stunning images show a replica of a Drakkar viking ship going up in flames on the river as row upon row of soldiers look on solemnly

Soldiers of the Azov regiment hold their flag as they attend an annual commemoration ceremony for their comrades

Thousands of Azov soldiers attended a traditional viking ceremony standing with torches in front of a burning replica of a Drakkar viking ship

Before the establishment of Ukraine, its territory was part of Kievan Rus’ from the 9th to 13th centuries

‘The names of our fallen brothers are engraved in our hearts forever and their rank continues to live as an example to follow for the current and future generations of Ukrainian soldiers.

‘We remember everyone. Let’s take revenge for everyone.’

Earlier in the war, fighters in the Azov regiment, which was founded by neo-Nazis but now denies links to the far-right, were holed out in the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol.

More than 2,000 defenders, many in the Azov unit, marched out of the steel plant’s twisted wreckage into Russian captivity in mid-May, ending a nearly three-month siege of the port city of Mariupol. 

But Ukraine’s hero defenders were captured by Russia and bussed off to prisons likened to concentration camps.

Earlier in the war, fighters in the Azov regiment were holed out in the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol

Ukraine’s hero defenders were captured by Russia and bussed off to prisons likened to concentration camps

More than 2,000 defenders, many in the Azov unit, marched out of the steel plant’s twisted wreckage into Russian captivity in mid-May

The group derives their name from the Sea of Azov and war formed in 2014 as a nationalist militia that has been fighting against separatist groups in eastern Ukraine

The group’s logo features a Wolfsangel, one of the original symbols used by the Nazi 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich in WWII

Many doubted they would be seen alive again. 

Russian hardliners had been calling for their execution, saying the fighters justify Vladimir Putin’s claims Ukraine is full of Nazis.

In September, the fighters were confirmed safe and were freed in a shock prisoner swap.

The group derives their name from the Sea of Azov and war formed in 2014 as a nationalist militia that has been fighting against separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.

The group’s logo features a Wolfsangel, one of the original symbols used by the Nazi 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich in WWII.

Members of the group deny its association with Nazism and claim the symbol is actually an abbreviation in Ukrainian for National Idea.

It was formed to fight separatists when Russia first annexed Crimea, but then becane a subdivision of Ukraine’s National Guard, which takes its orders directly from the country’s Ministry of Affairs. 

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