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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov backed his country’s claim that it invaded Ukraine in part to eradicate Nazism, dismissing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Judaism as irrelevant and suggesting that Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood”.
Italian news channel Zona Bianca pressed Lavrov on the issue in an interview Sunday, asking how Russian President Vladimir Putin can claim he is trying to “denazify” Ukraine when Zelensky is Jewish.
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“What if Zelensky was Jewish,” Lavrov said, The Times of Israel reported. “This fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe Hitler also had Jewish blood. »
Lavrov went on to say that “some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews.”
The claim about Hitler’s Jewish blood goes back to Hans Frank, who served as Poland’s governor general during the Holocaust, whose memoir suggests that Hitler’s paternal grandmother was impregnated by a Jewish man. Historians have long countered this claim as flimsy and based on an unreliable source.
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Lavrov’s remarks came the same week that Israel commemorates the Holocaust. Speaking to The Times of Israel, the director of the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, Dani Dayan, condemned Lavrov’s remarks as “false, delusional and dangerous, and worthy of condemnation”.
Putin’s attempt to justify his invasion as a “denazification” effort plays on the Russian public’s longstanding hatred for the Nazi regime, but Zelenskyy is Jewish and had family members killed in the Holocaust. Russian officials compared him to Jews who were forced to collaborate with the Nazis.
On Friday, Zelenskyy condemned Russian soldiers as “even more cynical” than Hitler’s troops.
“Russian troops manage to be even more cynical than the Nazis 80 years ago,” he said. “At that time, the invaders did not say that it was the residents of Mariupol and the defenders of the city who bombed and killed each other. »
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Ukraine’s president predicted that US aid in the form of the Lend-Lease program “will help Ukraine and the entire free world defeat the ideological successors of the Nazis, who have unleashed a war against us in our land” .
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.