Russian President Vladimir Putin made an apology on Thursday for comments made by his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, that Israel considered anti-Semitic.
Lavrov told Italian television earlier this week that the Hebrew origin of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not negate the Nazi background of his government.
In addition, he claimed that Hitler also had Jewish blood, a fact that his biographers have dismissed. Finally, he also commented that the worst anti-Semites in history were Jews.
In a telephone dialogue, Putin also told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that Russia was ready to provide a safe corridor for civilians at the besieged Azovstal steel mill in the port of Mariupol.
Bennett had asked him for this humanitarian gesture after a conversation with Ukrainian president. But the Kremlin denied that the Russian army was storming the plant.
In its official statement, the Kremlin did not refer to the diplomatic incident provoked by its foreign minister. Nor did the subsequent statements by the Foreign Ministry in Moscow. Although it did say that Putin congratulated Bennett on the occasion of Israel’s 74th anniversary and that friendly relations will continue.
The two leaders exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine. Israel has refused to send offensive weaponry to Kyiv, limiting itself to providing humanitarian support.
The Kremlin said that on May 9, the day Russia celebrates the victory over the Nazis, holds special significance for both peoples. Moscow said it respects the historical truth of the events and honors the memory of the fallen, including Holocaust victims. Earlier on Thursday, Putin sent a letter to President Isaac Herzog, congratulating him on Independence Day.
“Relations between the two countries, which are based on friendship and mutual respect, will continue to grow for the benefit of our people and the security of the Middle East,” he wrote in the missive.
Sobre los dichos de Lavrov
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had stated that Lavrov’s comments were “unforgivable and outrageous, 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. ”
Holocaust Museum (yadvashem.org) president Dani Dayan described the comments as “absurd, dangerous and deserve condemnation. Lavrov is propagating the inversion of the Holocaust, turning the victims into the criminals on the basis of promoting a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent.”(AmbDaniDayan/ref) “Equally serious is calling the Ukrainians in general, and President Zelenskyy in particular, Nazis. This, among other things, is a complete distortion of the history and a serious affront to the victims of Nazism.”