According to reports published by Haaretz and the Times of Israel on Friday, an Israeli army veteran identified as ‘Delta’ headed a street-fighting unit in Kiev.
The unit, called the ‘Blue Helmets of the Maidan’, was made up of a force of 40 men and women, including several Israeli army veterans. The reports added that the unit was linked to ultra-nationalist groups.
The reports said that Delta, a Ukraine-born former Israeli soldier, used combat skills he acquired in Israel’s Shu’alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev’s street fighters.
According to Delta, the Blue Helmets comprise 35 men and women, who are led by five ex-Israeli soldiers.
Unrest erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when the ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
Russia has repeatedly accused the West of meddling in the internal affairs of Ukraine and fueling the crisis in the country.
In early February, a four-minute video was posted on YouTube by an anonymous user, in which US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt discussed which of Ukraine’s opposition leaders they would like to see in government.
On February 23, the Ukrainian parliament ousted Yanukovych and named Oleksandr Turchynov, the legislature’s newly-elected speaker, as interim president.