Russia accused Israel of supporting “the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” Tuesday, raising the stakes in a high-level diplomatic dispute between Moscow and the Jewish state over Ukraine, anti-Semitism and Adolf Hitler.
The accusation potentially increases pressure on Israel.
Israel voted in the United Nations to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has accused Russia of war crimes.
But the Jewish state has not fully joined Western sanctions on Moscow or supplied Ukraine with weapons, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tried to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.
The Russian salvo came in a thousand-word broadside from the Foreign Ministry which used examples of forced Jewish collaboration with the Nazis and contemporary instances of anti-Semitism in Ukraine to defend Vladimir Putin’s tendentious claim to have invaded Ukraine in order to “de-Nazify” the country.
Israeli officials also responded with fury Monday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserting that Hitler had “Jewish blood.”
Lavrov was attempting to deflect a question about why Russia asserted that Ukraine was in the grip of neo-Nazis when its President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish.
Foreign Minister Lapid responded Monday that Lavrov’s “remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” and Prime Minister Bennett called Lavrov’s statement “lies.”