Russia Now Says Israel Is Supporting Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

In the space of 3 days, Russia has wrongly claimed Hitler had Jewish origins, accused Jewish people of antisemitism, and said Israel is supporting a neo-Nazi regime.
russia israel ukraine
People take part in a demonstration outside the city of Tel Aviv in March. Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Russia’s foreign ministry has doubled down in a major diplomatic row with Israel by accusing the government of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

On Sunday, when asked how Russia could be claiming to “de-Nazify” Ukraine when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov gave oxygen to false claims that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry.

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That sparked a huge uproar in Israel, as did Lavrov’s comments – made to Italian media – that “some of the worst antisemites are Jews”.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday in response: “Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error. Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy himself said: “I have no words...No one has heard any denial or any justification from Moscow. All we have from there is silence.... this means that the Russian leadership has forgotten all the lessons of WW2.” Asked about the comments at a regular briefing, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price called them “the lowest form of racism, it was the lowest form of propaganda.”

But on Tuesday, Russia’s foreign ministry responded to Lapid in a statement issued on Telegram, accusing him of being “anti-historical”, and of Israel supporting “the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv”.

Israel has so far not imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, and has attempted to play the role of mediator in the war.