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Russia escalates spat and accuses Israel of supporting ‘neo-nazis in Ukraine’

Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday accused Israel of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine in a move that escalated a back and forth spat between the Jewish nation and Moscow. 

The row began after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday defended claims made by Russian President Vladimir Putin as an attempt to justify his illegal invasion into Ukraine by alleging his forces are working to “denazify” regions that have been subject to oppression by Kyiv.   

In this photo released by the Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pauses during his and Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca's joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. 

In this photo released by the Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pauses during his and Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca’s joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. 
(Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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Ukrainian and international leaders have rejected these comments as a guise to justify his brutal campaign and point to the fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and was democratically elected.

But in an interview with an Italian news outlet, Lavrov doubled down on the claims and said, “For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest antisemites were Jewish.”

“When they say ‘How can Nazification exist if we’re Jewish?’ In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything,” Lavrov added. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a press conference Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a press conference Saturday, April 23, 2022.
(Fox News)

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Israel shot back Monday calling his comments “unforgivable” and a “terrible historical error” that minimized the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. A Washington Post fact-checker said “there’s little evidence” to support Lavrov’s claim.

“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust,” the Israeli foreign minister said. “The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”

Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday countered Israel’s comments and claimed Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s comments “contradict history.”

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Adding that his stance “largely explains the policy by the current Government of Israel to support the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”

“For some reason, the Western press, and some of our own liberals, still debate the question of whether there are neo-Nazis in Ukraine, with Vladimir Zelenskyy’s origin cited as a substantial argument,” the Russian ministry added, claiming the argument did “not hold water.”

Russia has yet to provide any proof to support its claims of oppressive action by Ukrainian officials. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Caitlin McFall is a Fox News Digital reporter. You can reach her at caitlin.mcfall@fox.com or @ctlnmcfall on Twitter.

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