Leading Russian state TV host Vladimir Solovyov defended Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov after he said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood”. The remarks sparked a diplomatic row with Israel, one of the few remaining ‘neutral’ countries in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Mr Solovyov, a Kremlin mouthpiece who has a direct line to Vladimir Putin, said that Nazism does not necessarily mean antisemitism.
He hit out at claims that “because Zelensky is a Jew, he cannot be a Nazi – of course, he can be”.
Vladimir Putin has sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine by claiming he intends to ‘de-Nazify’ the country.
Solovyov argued that the Nazism on display in Ukraine is not antisemitic, but instead “anti-Slavic and anti-Russian”.
Speaking on Russia-1, Solovyov said: “Nazism does not necessarily mean antisemitism. That’s what Americans keep concocting.”
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He added: “They say that Volodymyr Zelensky is a Jew, therefore he cannot be a Nazi. Of course, he can be.
“Nazism doesn’t have to be antisemitic. It can be anti-Slavic, anti-Russian, which is what Ukrainian Nazism is.”
Daily Beast columnist Julia Davis tweeted the baffling explanation, adding: “After Lavrov’s hideous antisemitic Nazi remarks, for which Putin had to apologize to Israel, new directives apparently landed at the state TV studios.
“Now they claim that Nazism doesn’t have to be antisemitic and in its new iteration it is [drumroll] anti-Slavic and anti-Russian.”
Earlier this week, Israel claimed that President Putin apologised for Lavrov’s remarks in a call with Israeli PM Naftali Bennett.
However, Russia’s account of the conversation did not mention an apology.
Lavrov made the initial comments to try to justify Russia’s portrayal of Ukraine as “Nazi” despite the fact that its president is Jewish.
When asked how Russia can claim that it is fighting to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine when President Zelensky is himself Jewish, Lavrov said: “I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. That Zelensky is Jewish means absolutely nothing.
“Wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”
On Tuesday, Russia’s foreign ministry doubled down on Lavrov’s words, accusing the Israeli government of “supporting the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv”.
The foreign ministry added: “Unfortunately, history knows tragic examples of Jewish cooperation with the Nazis.”