BRUSSELS — The EU on Thursday denounced Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s claim that Western policy towards Russia over Ukraine resembled the Nazi’s “final solution” plan of genocide against the Jewish people.
“Latest comments by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accusing ‘The West’ of seeking a ‘final solution’ for Russia are entirely misplaced, disrespectful and trample on the memory of the six million Jewish people, and other victims, who were systematically murdered in the Holocaust,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.
“This adds to previous antisemitic remarks of Minister Lavrov.”
Borrell said, “the Russian regime’s manipulation of the truth to justify their illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has reached another unacceptable and despicable low point.”
Moscow’s top diplomat — whose previous comments on Hitler and Jews led to Russian President Vladimir Putin issuing a rare apology on his behalf last year — made the comparison at his annual press conference on Wednesday.
“Just as Napoleon mobilized practically all of Europe against the Russian Empire, just as Hitler mobilized and captured… the majority of European countries and sent them against the Soviet Union, now the United States has organized a coalition,” Lavrov said.
Western countries, he said, are “by proxy through Ukraine waging war against our country.
“The task is the same: the final solution of the ‘Russian question.’ Just as Hitler wanted to finally solve the Jewish question.”
Borrell insisted “there is no parallel between the crimes of Nazi Germany and the international help for Ukraine in defending its territory and people against an unjustified aggression.”
“Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring country, targets and kills civilians there on a daily basis, with the stated aim to destroy the country and the Ukrainian nation,” he said.
“Holocaust denial, distortion, and trivialization are against EU law and EU values. The EU made the unequivocal commitment to ensure that such atrocities never happen again.”
Israel said on Wednesday that Lavrov’s remarks were “unacceptable.”
“Any comparison or relating current events with Hitler’s final solution plan for the extermination of the Jewish People distorts the historical truth, desecrates the memory of those who perished and the survivors and should be strongly rejected,” said the Foreign Ministry.
Germany said the statement was “appalling.”
“The historical lesson to draw here is: Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine will neither be forgotten nor left unpunished,” said Berlin’s Ambassador Steffen Seibert.
France’s embassy in Israel called Lavrov’s remarks “outrageous and disgraceful.”
“The one and only ‘Final Solution’ left an unspeakable scar in mankind’s history,” read the French statement.
It is not the first time Lavrov has invoked Hitler and the Jews in his outspoken anti-Western remarks, and the 72-year-old has faced antisemitism accusations before.
In May last year, Putin apologized to Israel after Lavrov claimed Hitler had “Jewish blood.”
Lazar Berman contributed to this report.