Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Italian television this weekend a terrible falsification of history. Lavrov’s allegations about Nazism in Ukraine are not separate notes, but rather an expression of the Kremlin’s systematic war propaganda.
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For several years, the Moscow regime has been spreading misconceptions that neo-Nazis have seized power in Ukraine, that they have committed genocide against Russian speakers and that they are an imminent threat to Russia.
To make history, it has to do with portraying Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky as a Nazi, or at least “a tool of Nazi extremists,” in Lavrov’s words.
Zelensky has a Jewish background. He has members of his family who fought and fell in the fight against Nazi Germany during World War II.
It is absurd to refer to him as a neo-Nazi or Nazi sympathizer. But Lavrov has an explanation. He even claimed on Italian television that Adolf Hitler had a Jewish background.
It is natural for Israel to respond sharply to Lavrov’s statements. All democratic nations must do so, and clearly distance themselves from such hideous accusations.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid described Lavrov’s allegations as “unforgivable, outrageous and historically incorrect.” He is absolutely right.
Another aspect of what Lavrov said is deeply problematic. The Israeli Holocaust Center Yad Vashem notes that this is an insult to the victims of Nazism.
The Nazis killed six million Jews in extermination camps. Among the victims were Ukrainian Jews.
But some survived the Holocaust and there are still a few thousand Jews in Ukraine who have memories of persecution at that time. They were children or young adults when they had to flee during the war years.
Many of these elderly people are now forced to leave their homes again, this time due to the brutal Russian war in Ukraine.
Lavrov’s use of language is a stark example of how the Kremlin uses conspiracy theories and baseless claims to justify war against an independent country.
When Russia attacked, Vladimir Putin said the goal was to disarm and disarm Ukraine.
In Putin’s publicity show commemorating Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the slogan was “For a world free of Nazism.” On Memorial Day for the victory over Nazi Germany next week, we expect Putin to follow the same scenario.
The Russians suffered heavy losses in the war against Nazism during World War II. Putin and his circle are trying to use this to legitimize the attack on Ukraine.
But the Nazi accusations are only an excuse.
The real rationale is Putin’s ambitions to restore a great Russian empire.
A democratic Ukraine that seeks cooperation with Western countries stands in the way of his plan. That’s why Putin went to war.
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