‘This is Where the Presidents Play’

Petraeus Hosts Neo-Nazi Golf Tournament at Joint Base Andrews

Ukes, Kooks & Spooks
5 min readJul 1, 2024

Three weeks before Donald Trump and Joe Biden sparred over their respective golf games at last Thursday’s presidential debate, “The Courses at Andrews” Air Force Base hosted a charity golf tournament for wounded Ukrainian veterans of the neo-Nazi “Azov” movement.

Joint Base Andrews, located fifteen miles southeast of the White House in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is home to Air Force One and three 18-hole golf courses long favored by U.S. presidents and members of Congress. Brute fascists are starting a new tradition on the green.

Azov veterans at the first annual “US-Ukraine Freedom Summit” charity golf tournament

Retired four-star general David Petraeus addressed at least a half dozen Azov veterans at the June 7 event, held just three days before the news broke that the U.S. State Department cleared the notorious Azov Brigade in the National Guard of Ukraine to receive weapons, training, and other assistance from the United States. Petraeus, a former director of the CIA, commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The charity golf event capped off the first annual “U.S.-Ukraine Freedom Summit” held by the Borderlands Foundation, an organization founded in early 2022 by former West Point instructor Samuel Cook to “Help Ukraine Claim it’s [sic] Rightful Place in the History Books.” According to Petraeus, “The Borderlands Foundation team has been very helpful during my visits to Ukraine and in my efforts to understand the situation there.” They’ve also teamed up to promote his latest book about the “evolution of warfare from 1945 to Ukraine.”

The three-day “Freedom Summit,” starring Petraeus and Azov veterans, included a “U.S.-Ukraine Veterans Forum,” and a “U.S.-Ukraine Defense Innovation Forum” that featured speakers from Washington, the Office of the President of Ukraine, and the “defense communities” of both countries.

In April 2024 the Borderlands Foundation signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Azov Patronage Service, or “Azov’s Angels,” which supports the rehabilitation of wounded Azov fighters. The new partners announced “an important day — the beginning of fruitful and long-term cooperation aimed at supporting the Heroes of Ukraine, in particular, veterans of the 12th Special Purpose Brigade ‘Azov’ of the NGU [National Guard] and the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” This partnership includes an annual charity golf event in Washington to raise money for “Azov’s Angels” and the Borderlands Foundation.

Partnership of Borderlands Foundation and Azov Patronage Service

The Borderlands Foundation invited supporters to sponsor nine Ukrainian “war heroes” to participate in the golf tournament; each received a profile on the event’s website that did not shy away from promoting the fact that most, if not all, were Azov veterans. The group included at least three people from the NGU Azov Brigade, and three from the 3rd Assault Brigade, a more openly neo-Nazi unit created by leaders of the broader Azov Movement.

They were encouraged to introduce themselves for potential sponsors. “I was a machine gunner, so I had a lot of fun work,” said Kostyantyn Vlaev, who explained that he joined the Azov Special Operations Forces, which became the 3rd Assault Brigade, because “I wanted something bigger and I wanted to be among ideological nationalists.” The photograph of NGU Azov Brigade veteran Vitalii Serko censored what was probably a neo-Nazi patch on his chest.

According to the Azov Patronage Service, which unites these two neo-Nazi brigades, the visiting Ukrainian soldiers toured the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, and the exclusive Army and Navy Club, “whose members include high-ranking figures from the U.S. Armed Forces, American politics, and special services.” Olena Tolkachova, the long-time head of “Azov’s Angels,” now affiliated with the 3rd Assault Brigade, joined them.

David Petraeus with a 3rd Assault Brigade veteran and other soldiers at the “Freedom Summit”

Other members of the Azov-led delegation to Washington included Oleksandr Kikin, an original organizer of the extremist Right Sector in central Ukraine, and now the head of paralympic golf at the Ukrainian Golf Federation. Olena Gubka, a long-time combat medic, was also on hand. At some point Gubka joined the “OUN Battalion,” a far-right unit which originated in the Azov Battalion of 2014 and took its name from the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists that helped the Nazis perpetrate the Holocaust in Ukraine.

Three days after the “Freedom Summit” concluded, the Washington Post reported that the State Department greenlit the NGU Azov Brigade to receive U.S. weapons and training, despite a ban passed by the U.S. House of Representatives years ago. The article noted that the State Department was somehow “unclear about the origins and timing” of its decision. Adding still more confusion, the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs suggested that the Azov Brigade already “received [U.S.] arms and equipment.”

Over a month earlier, Stanford University’s Mapping Militants Project quietly deleted its profile on the Azov Movement, which sent representatives to Stanford in October 2022 and June 2023. The charity golf event, announced in April, raises more questions about the timing of this policy reversal.

More recently, the House of Representatives reaffirmed its ban for all “successor” units of the 2014 Azov Battalion, including the 3rd Assault Brigade, a neo-Nazi cesspool which has reportedly evaded U.S. restrictions by dropping the word “Azov” from its title. The consequences of this updated legislation remain to be seen.

Pro-Azov info-warriors often insist that the NGU Azov Brigade became worthy “Heroes of Ukraine” by distancing itself from the broader Azov Movement and cleansing the unit of neo-Nazis. The undesirable elements allegedly left to join the “National Corps” and other groups for Azov veterans. According to the New York Times, “Independent military analysts and experts who study the far right support that assertion, asserting that [NGU] Azov’s incorporation into the regular combat forces of the Ukrainian military led to a purging of extremist elements.”

In fact, there was never a purge, and the Azov Brigade still has openly neo-Nazi units, but for the sake of argument, let’s briefly entertain this evidence-free fantasy promoted by many in Washington, Kyiv, and the media: whatever happened to those “bad apples”? For starters, they coalesced in the 3rd Assault Brigade, which remains tied to the hip of the Azov Brigade, for example, via the Azov Patronage Service. Other examples include Azov’s autonomous military schools, which are technically part of the NGU unit, named after OUN founder Yevhen Konovalets and OUN ideologist Mykola Stsiborskyi, who envisioned a totalitarian Ukraine.

In reality, those going to bat for the Azov Brigade are simply helping to whitewash the most powerful neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine, and probably the world, one step at a time.

Spotted on the green: the Ukrainian neo-Nazi brand “Svastone”