Here’s why Russian President Putin apologised for ‘Hitler’ remark

“I view with utmost severity the Russian Foreign Minister’s statement. His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong," Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.

Putin has apologised to Israel PM Bennett. Photo: PTI

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has apologised to Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for comments made by his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

According to Bennett’s office, Putin apologised to the Israeli PM during a phone call on Thursday (May 5).

Also read: End ruthless war in Ukraine, even one-day ceasefire would prevent deaths: UN chief

“The Prime Minister accepted President Putin’s apology for Lavrov’s remarks and thanked him for clarifying the President’s attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” a statement from Bennett’s office said.

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Lavrov, in an interview on Italian TV programme Zona Bianca on Sunday (May 1) had remarked that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood”. This had led to a war of words between Russia and Israel.

“I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. (That Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish) means absolutely nothing. Wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews,” the minister said when asked as to how Russia can claim that it is fighting to “de-Nazify” Ukraine when President Volodymyr Zelensky is himself Jewish.

Also read: Whatever has happened to the war in Ukraine? Why is it not ending?

Reacting to this, Zelensky said, “I have no words… No one has heard any denial or any justification from Moscow. All we have from there is silence.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba termed Lavrov’s remarks as “heinous”. “FM Lavrov could not help hiding the deeply-rooted antisemitism of the Russian elites. His heinous remarks are offensive to President @ZelenskyyUa, Ukraine, Israel, and the Jewish people. More broadly, they demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations,” he tweeted.

The “de-Nazify” comment was made in February by Putin to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “The purpose of this operation is to protect people who for eight years now have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime. To this end, we will seek to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.”

Following Lavrov’s remarks, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had summoned the Russian Ambassador to Israel for a clarification meeting with the Deputy Director-General for Eurasian Affairs.

Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid said, “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.”

PM Bennett said, “I view with utmost severity the Russian Foreign Minister’s statement. His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong. The goal of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history, which were perpetrated against them, and thereby absolve Israel’s enemies of responsibility. As I have already said, no war in our time is like the Holocaust or is comparable to the Holocaust. The use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political tool must cease immediately.”

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