After Lavrov outrage: Israel says Putin apologizes for Hitler comparison

After the outrage in Lavrov
Israel says Putin apologizes for Hitler comparison

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov provoked outrage in Israel by claiming that Hitler too had “Jewish blood”. In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Bennett, the Kremlin leader apparently apologized to Putin for his minister’s statements.

After a row over statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that were criticized as anti-Semitic, Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin issued an apology, according to Israeli sources. This was announced by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office after a phone call with Putin. Bennett accepted the apology and “thank you for clarifying the president’s attitude toward the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust.”

The Kremlin initially gave no confirmation of the apology. From Moscow, it was only said that the Russian president emphasized his country’s friendly relations with Israel during the phone call. The subject of the call was also the fighting in Ukraine. Putin’s apology is considered highly unusual.

Lavrov had caused outrage in Israel and other countries in an Italian television interview about the war in Ukraine, which aired on Sunday. Moscow justifies the attack on the neighboring country as an allegedly necessary “denazification”, despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj being of Jewish origin. Lavrov said that Hitler also had “Jewish blood”. “That doesn’t mean anything at all. Wise Jewish people say that the most fervent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Jair Lapid then demanded an apology. Lavrov promotes “a reversal of the Holocaust – by turning the victims into criminals, by spreading a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish origin”. The Israeli government has also invited the Russian ambassador for an interview.

Despite international outrage over Lavrov’s comparison to Hitler, Moscow upped the ante on Wednesday. The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Israel of supporting “the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv”.

Discussion on “historical memory”

During their conversation, Putin and Bennett also exchanged views on the historic commemoration of World War II. It was about the significance of May 9 as the day of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany and “all victims” of World War II, including “victims of the Holocaust”, the Kremlin said.

Putin and Bennett continued their “in-depth exchange of views on the situation in Ukraine”, the Kremlin said. Another theme was “historical memory”. Among other things, Putin pointed out that “40%” of the Jews murdered during the Holocaust were “citizens of the USSR”. For his part, Bennett emphasized the “decisive contribution of the Red Army to the victory over Nazism”.

On May 9, Russia traditionally celebrates victory over Nazi Germany with a military parade and a speech by Kremlin leader Putin in Moscow’s Red Square. This year, the celebrations in the context of the Russian military operation in Ukraine are of particular significance.

The statement from Bennett’s office also said the prime minister had submitted a request to consider various options for evacuating civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol. “The request came after his conversation with Zelenskyj yesterday,” he said. Putin promised to facilitate an evacuation using a United Nations humanitarian corridor and the International Red Cross. This also applies to injured civilians.

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