The Russian Foreign Ministry said Israel supports the “neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv,” which escalated the diplomatic row.
The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Israel of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, escalating a row that began when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday that Lavrov’s false comment was “unforgivable” that tried to downplay the horrors of the Holocaust — Nazi Germany’s murder of six million Jews and other minorities.
Leaders from several Western countries denounced Lavrov, who was asked how Russia could pursue its stated goal of “eliminating the wrath” of Ukraine when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself is Jewish. Zelensky, whose country is a parliamentary democracy, accused Russia of forgetting the lessons of World War II.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Lapid’s comments were “anti-historic” and “to a large extent explain why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”
Moscow reiterated Lavrov’s view that Zelensky’s Jewish origins did not prevent Ukraine from running the neo-Nazis.
“Anti-Semitism in everyday life and in politics does not stop but is nurtured on the contrary.” [in Ukraine]She said in a statement.
Israel expressed its support for Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion in February. But fearing damage to relations with Russia, which is the power broker in neighboring Syria, at first she avoided direct criticism of Moscow and did not impose formal sanctions on the Russian oligarchy.
In view of this, Israel sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine and expressed support for its people, but the government did not join the international sanctions against Russia.
That paved the way for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to be able to try to mediate between the two sides, an effort that appears to have stalled as Israel deals with its own internal turmoil.
But relations have grown tense, with Lapid last month accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine.
After the Kremlin claimed that Israel supported Nazism, I only have one question. Is there a non-Nazi state in the whole world from the point of view of Russia? Except for Syria, Belarus and Eritrea, of course,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolak tweeted on Tuesday, referring to countries that have supported what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.
In a speech at the end of March before the Israeli parliament, Zelensky called on Israel to “make a choice” by supporting Ukraine against Russia, and demanded that the Jewish state provide it with arms.
Nazism figured prominently in Russia’s war goals and narratives while fighting in Ukraine.
In his attempt to legitimize the war for Russian citizens, President Vladimir Putin has portrayed the battle as a struggle against the Nazis in Ukraine, even though the country has a democratically elected government and a Jewish president whose relatives were murdered in the Holocaust.
Putin cited the presence of units such as the Azov Battalion within the Ukrainian army as one of the reasons for launching the so-called “special military operation”.
Azov is a far-right all-volunteer infantry unit established in 2014 to fight pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. Its early members were ultra-nationalists and were accused of harboring neo-Nazi ideology and white supremacy. The unit has since been incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine.
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