By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
JERUSALEM/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Israel says Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has apologized after his foreign minister said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood.”
Putin mentioned the apology in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, his office said in a statement, but Moscow did not confirm that in its account of their talks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the initial comments to justify Russia’s portrayal of Ukraine’s government as “Nazi,” although its president is Jewish.
Lavrov spoke to Italian television on Sunday, days after Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day – one of the most solemn occasions in the Israeli calendar.
He dismissed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewish faith by claiming that “Hitler also had Jewish blood” — a discredited antisemitic claim. The comments sparked outrage in Israel as Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews in the Holocaust, or Shoah, in World War Two.
“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,” Bennett’s office stressed.
The controversy came just days before Russia’s annual Victory Day on May 9, a holiday that commemorates the victory of the then Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Bennett had previously offered to host peace talks on Jerusalem between Ukraine and Russia, according to sources familiar with the proposal.
However, the Kremlin was due to be concerned about reports that Israel was considering boosting its military and civilian assistance to Ukraine.
It remained unclear whether Putin had convinced Israel not to provide weapons following their talks.
President Zelensky suggested in separate remarks that the world should wake up to Russia’s “showings of chauvinism and nationalism.”
He claimed that Russia was “following the same concept of [Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph] Goebbels and using the same methodology. And the reaction I think is to weaken the world to these phrases of Lavrov.”
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