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Russia says Israel supports neo-Nazis feuding over Ukraine

Russia says Israel supports neo-Nazis feuding over Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a press conference after meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Moscow, Russia, April 26, 2022. Maxim Schebenkov/Paul via Reuters/File photo

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(Reuters) – The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Israel on Tuesday of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, an escalation of controversy that began when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins.

Israel said Monday that Lavrov’s comment was an “unforgivable” lie that tried to downplay the horrors of the Holocaust – Nazi Germany’s murder of six million Jews and other minorities. Read more

Leaders from several Western countries denounced Lavrov, who was asked how Russia could pursue its stated goal of “discrediting” Ukraine when President Volodymyr Zelensky himself is Jewish. Zelensky, whose country is a parliamentary democracy, accused Russia of forgetting the lessons of World War II.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s comments were “hostile to history” and “to a large extent explain why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”

Moscow reiterated Lavrov’s view that Zelensky’s Jewish origins did not prevent Ukraine from running the neo-Nazis.

“Anti-Semitism does not stop in everyday life and in politics, on the contrary, it thrives (in Ukraine),” she said in a statement.

Israel expressed its support for Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion in February. But fearing damage to relations with Russia, which has influence in neighboring Syria, at first she avoided direct criticism of Moscow and did not impose official sanctions on the Russian oligarchy.

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But relations have grown strained, with Lapid last month accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

“After the Kremlin claimed that Israel supported Nazism, I only have one question. Is there any non-Nazi country in the whole world from Russia’s point of view? Except for Syria, Belarus and Eritrea, of course,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolak wrote on Twitter. On Tuesday, referring to countries that have supported what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.

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Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Raisa Kasulowski and Mark Heinrich

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.