Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded Wednesday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comparing him to Adolf Hitler with his own Nazi reference.
“They are the concept of Goebbels and they are using the same methodology, and the reaction I think is to weaken the world to these phrases of Lavrov,” Zelensky said during an interview with Fox News Channel’s Griff Jenkins, referring to the Nazi’s chief propagandist.
One of the main justifications Russia has provided for its brutal war on Ukraine is a supposed need to “de-nazify” the country, which has been dismissed by the West but it remains a central part of Moscow’s messaging at home.
Zelensky has pointed to the absurdity of the claim, given his own Jewish ancestry, an argument Lavrov hit back at in a television appearance on Monday.
“[Zelensky] puts forward an argument: what kind of Nazism can they have if he is a Jew. I may be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. It means absolutely nothing. The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent antisemites are usually Jews,” Lavrov said.
Despite backlash against Lavrov’s comments from Israel and elsewhere, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs doubled down on the statement Tuesday.
“For some reason, the Western press (and some of our liberals) are still arguing about whether there are neo-Nazis in Ukraine,” the statement read. “The Jewish origin of Volodymyr Zelensky is given as one of the ‘reinforced concrete’ arguments. The argument is not only untenable, but also crafty. History, unfortunately, knows tragic examples of cooperation between Jews and the Nazis.”
In the interview, Zelensky reiterated his call for President Biden to visit Ukraine and said Ukraine is aiming to “save as many people as possible because we cannot lose our nation” during the war.
Russian forces have been accused of targeting civilians, raping women and kidnapping children during their assault on Ukraine, which has focused on the country’s eastern regions.