Israel has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has apologized after his foreign minister said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood”.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov (pictured bottom left) speaking to Italian TV on Sunday, days after Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day – one of the most solemn occasions in the Israeli calendar was asked how Russia can claim that it is fighting to “de-Nazify” Ukraine when President Volodymyr Zelensky is himself Jewish.
Lavrov replied: “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.”
The comments sparked outrage in Israel as Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler murdered six million Jews in the Holocaust in World War Two.
Israel had demanded an apology, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying shortly after that “such lies are meant to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history and thus free the oppressors of the Jews from their responsibility”.
Putin has now apologized according to Israeli PM Naftali Bennett, his office said in a statement even though Russia’s account of the conversation did not mention an apology.
In the statement on Thursday, May 5, Bennett’s office said that he had accepted Putin’s apology and “thanked him for clarifying his attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust”.
Russia said the two leaders discussed the Holocaust, but did not say that Putin apologised.
Israeli media this week reported that Israel was considering boosting its military and civilian assistance to Ukraine after facing criticism for not taking a tougher line against Russia with whom they have a good relationship with.