The battalion's commander is Andriy Biletsky ( Андрій Білецький), who was awarded by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko with a military decoration, "Order For Courage", and promoted to lieutenant colonel of police. In the beginning, Azov was the Ministry of Internal Affairs special police company, led by Volodymyr Shpara ( Володимир Шпара), the leader of the Vasylkiv'sPatriot of Ukraine and Right Sector organizations in the Kiev region. Biletsky stayed out of the public spotlight working on expanding Azov to battalion size. In summer 2014 he took the command of the unit in his own hands; Shpara remained in the battalion as the commander of the 1st Company.
Biletsky is also head of two neo-Nazi political groups, Patriot of Ukraine and Social-National Assembly. Journalist Alec Luhn has described Azov Battalion as openly neo-Nazi; the Ministry of Internal Affairs has stated that it is not neo-Nazi.