Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as a “great connoisseur of Hitlerism” after the latter’s comments alleging that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had “Jewish origins”. He also questioned whether Israel and Russia’s relations would remain as usual.
“Yesterday, for example, Russia's foreign minister openly and without hesitation said that the biggest anti-Semites were allegedly among the Jews themselves. And that Hitler allegedly had Jewish blood. How could this be possibly said on the eve of the anniversary of the victory over Nazism? These words mean that Russia's top diplomat puts the blame on the Jewish people for Nazi crimes. I have no words,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.
He added: “Such an anti-Semitic attack by their minister means that Russian authorities have forgotten all the lessons of World War II, or maybe they never learnt those lessons. So the question is whether the Israeli ambassador stays in Moscow knowing their new position, whether the relations with Russia remain as usual. Because all of this is not accidental. The words of the Russian Foreign Minister, a ‘great connoisseur of Hitlerism’ are not random.”
Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 claiming it aimed to “denazify” the country alongside its other goals.
On Sunday, Lavrov said in an interview with Italian TV Media Set: “So when they say ‘How can Nazification exist if we’re Jewish?’ In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything. For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest antisemites were Jewish.”
His comments enraged Israel which condemned his statement as “unforgivable” and summoned the Russian ambassador in protest.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that while Israel makes “every effort” to maintain good ties with Russia, “there’s a limit and this limit has been crossed this time.”
He added: “The government of Russia needs to apologize to us and to the Jewish people.”