US Rep. Pete Sessions claims he didn't know he met with Azov militants
US Republican Rep. Pete Sessions denies knowing the identity of the people he met, arguing that "nobody was in a uniform."
US Republican Rep. Pete Sessions told Sputnik, following his meeting with soldiers of Ukraine's Azov nationalistic regiment on Capitol Hill, that he allegedly did not know with whom he met because these people did not wear a uniform.
During a phone call with Sputnik, Sessions initially denied meeting with Azov soldiers — a group that was subject to a Congress funding ban several years ago — but later clarified that he did meet with a group of people but was unsure if they were Azov soldiers.
"I did have some meeting with some people," Sessions said. "I met with a group of people."
When asked if the meeting included members of the Azov regiment, he said, "I don't know, nobody was in a uniform."
The chief of Kiev-based NGO Anti-Corruption Action Center, Daria Kaleniuk, said on Monday that Azov soldiers were received on Capitol Hill earlier in September.
Kaleniuk revealed that the Ukrainian delegation also met with Senators Joni Ernst, Dan Sullivan, Shelley Moore, Jeanne Shaheen, and other lawmakers to discuss Ukraine's request for modern tanks like the Abrams, the Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM), and other air defense systems.
The delegation's visit to Washington also included a meeting with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central and Eastern Europe in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Robin Dunnigan and the State Department's Head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination Jim O'Brien to lobby for the designation of Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" and the seizure of $300 billion in Russian sovereign funds located abroad, which Ukraine can use to purchase modern weapons, according to the State Department.
Azov militants use prohibited means and methods of warfare and are complicit in the torture of civilians and killings of children, according to the Russian prosecutor general’s office.
That said, the Azov Battalion is a funded volunteer military unit, and after the Ukrainian authorities' decision to ban illegal armed formations, the volunteer battalions were offered to join the units of the Ministry of Defense. It is reported that many of the soldiers and officers of these units are members of the Ukrainian far-right groups who openly adopt neo-Nazi views.