Russia says Zelensky heads ‘Nazi regime’ with ‘blood ties to Israel’

Moscow’s embassy in Egypt posts tweet in response to Ukrainian president’s visit to Arab League summit, later deletes and reposts it without Israel reference

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

In this photo provided by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, is greeted by Prince Badr Bin Sultan, deputy governor of Mecca, upon his arrival at Jeddah airport, Saudi Arabia, May 19, 2023, to attend the Arab summit. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)
In this photo provided by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, is greeted by Prince Badr Bin Sultan, deputy governor of Mecca, upon his arrival at Jeddah airport, Saudi Arabia, May 19, 2023, to attend the Arab summit. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Russia’s embassy in Egypt said that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky heads a Nazi regime with “blood ties to Israel” in a since-deleted tweet.

“The president of the Nazi regime in Kyiv has blood ties to Israel. He came to an Arab political event and not only lied outrageously about the roots of the conflict but also dared to condemn the neutral Arab position on this issue,” the embassy tweeted Saturday, referencing Zelensky’s attendance at the Arab League summit in Jeddah.

The tweet was later deleted and then re-uploaded the next day but without mention of Israel.

Addressing the summit in English, Zelensky appeared to invoke the Arab world’s own troubled history of invasion and occupation, saying their nations would understand that Ukraine “will never submit to any foreigners or colonizers. That’s why we fight.”

He took a swipe at Iran for supplying attack drones to Russia and spoke about the suffering of Muslim ethnic Tatars living under Russian occupation in Crimea. He also accused some in the hall of “turning a blind eye” to Russia’s violations, without naming them.

Russian leaders have repeatedly tried to justify their invasion of Ukraine as a struggle against neo-Nazism, though the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, is Jewish.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) meets with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 16, 2023. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sparked a diplomatic row with Israel last year after he claimed that “Hitler also had Jewish blood” and that “some of the worst antisemites are Jews,” in an attempt to validate Moscow’s ostensible attempts to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to then-prime minister Naftali Bennett in a phone call days later.

Israel has provided humanitarian support to Ukraine but has stopped short of providing weapons. Kyiv had urged Jerusalem to supply it with missile interceptor capabilities, but Jerusalem has so far refused, as Israeli leaders seek to avoid overly antagonizing Russia.

Israel points to its strategic need to maintain freedom of operations in Syria, where Russian forces could threaten Israeli pilots. Israel is one of the few Western countries that maintains relatively good relations with both Ukraine and Russia.

Times of Israel staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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