Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had apologized for comments made by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in which he claimed that Nazi leader Hitler was of Jewish origin.
After a call with Putin, Bennett added that he accepted the apology and thanked Putin for clarifying his position. The Israeli Prime Minister emphasized the decisive role of the Soviet Red Army in defeating Nazism.
According to a statement issued by the Kremlin, “the two leaders expressed their common interest in continuing to develop friendly relations between Russia and Israel and strengthening contacts between the two countries.”
The call dealt with the latest developments in Ukraine, as Russia continues its military operation.
The statement indicated that Putin and Bennett stressed “the special significance of this date for the two peoples who carefully preserve the historical truth about the events of those years and commemorate all the victims, including those who perished in the Holocaust.”
According to the statement, the Russian President reminded that 40% of the Jews who were killed in the extermination camps and as a result of Nazi punitive operations, were citizens of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine and Nazism
The call comes against the backdrop of a diplomatic row after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s Jewish origins do not guarantee the absence of Nazism in his country.
In this dialogue, Lavrov indicated that “the most severe anti-Semites were usually the Jews themselves”, and suggested that Hitler was of Jewish origin.
Lavrov’s statement sparked an uproar in Israel, which summoned Russia’s ambassador, while Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid described his Russian counterpart’s statements as “unacceptable and a terrible mistake in history.”
For its part, the Russian Foreign Ministry published a statement defending Lavrov’s position, describing Lapid’s statements as “contrary to history” and blaming Bennett’s government for “supporting the Nazi regime in Kyiv.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also announced the presence of Israeli mercenaries in the ranks of the Nazi “Azov” battalion engaged in the fighting on the side of Kyiv.