Ukrainian officials tell Hebrew media Putin’s war is like the Holocaust

Lawmaker Olga Vasylevska-Smaglyuk claims children kidnapped to camp ‘like Auschwitz’ in Belarus; mayor of Mykolaiv says war is between Russian Nazism and Western civilization

A resident sits outside a destroyed building after it was hit by artillery shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A resident sits outside a destroyed building after it was hit by artillery shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Two Ukrainian officials told Hebrew media Monday that Russia’s actions during its invasion of their country are comparable to the Holocaust, with one saying Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting like the Nazis in World War II, and another claiming that children are being kidnapped and taken to a camp like Auschwitz in Belarus.

The interviews came as Russia continued its military action in Ukraine, shelling besieged cities where trapped civilians are unable to escape to safety and cannot receive humanitarian supplies.

Ukrainian parliament member Olga Vasylevska-Smaglyuk told Army Radio that “What they are doing here is really, really similar to the Holocaust.”

Vasylevska-Smaglyuk, who has a sister, aunt, and cousin in Israel, spoke to the station in Hebrew and noted that her grandparents had experienced the Holocaust in Ukraine, where over 1.2 million Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis.

Told that many in Israel are uncomfortable with comparing the Holocaust to events in Ukraine, Vasylevska-Smaglyuk insisted the comparison was apt.

“What the Russians are doing is similar to the Nazi crimes,” she said. “They are killing people, including children, and kidnapping them to Belarus, where there is a camp like Auschwitz. It is not just a war between two armies.”

She did not elaborate on the alleged camp in Belarus but did say that inside Ukraine “there are people who haven’t eaten for 16 days because they are afraid to leave their shelters.”

Nearly a million Jewish people were murdered in the Nazi camp in Auschwitz, Poland, during WWII, the vast majority of them in gas chambers, while others starved to death or died of disease.

Vasylevska-Smaglyuk said that though her family in Israel is imploring her to join them, she will remain in Ukraine to discharge her duty as a member of parliament.

Screen capture from video of Oleksandr Syenkevych, the mayor of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, March 14, 2022. (Channel 12 News)

Oleksandr Syenkevych, the mayor of Mykolaiv on Ukraine’s southern coast of the Black Sea, also accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of actions reminiscent of the Nazis.

Speaking to Channel 12 news, Syenkevych he said that over the previous day 230 buildings were destroyed and 60 people killed. His city stands between the Russian advance along the coast and Odesa, the largest major city before the border with Romania.

Asked about Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, he said he doubts there is anything to be gained by negotiation with Putin as “he is crazy, he acts like the Nazis acted in World War II. I don’t think the negotiations will give any results.”

“This is war between Russian Nazism and Western civilization,” Syenkevych said and warned that if Putin conquers Ukraine he will continue into other parts of Europe.

Both sides in the conflict have accused the other of “Nazism,” with Putin justifying his February 24 invasion by saying he wanted to “denazify” areas of Ukraine where he claimed there was a “genocide” being committed against Russian-speaking citizens. Western governments and Ukraine itself have dismissed the claims as a baseless justification for the invasion.

Earlier this month, the head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum Dani Dayan told The Times of Israel that Russia was trivializing the Holocaust with its claims about Nazism in Ukraine.

Ukraine has reportedly asked to hold a large rally at Yad Vashem that would be addressed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss Russia’s invasion of his country.

According to a Walla news report Sunday, Ukrainian Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk met on Sunday with the chairman of the Holocaust memorial, Dani Dayan, to request permission for the rally, saying the event would be attended by Knesset members and various officials and public figures.

Yad Vashem turned down the request due to concerns that comparisons would be drawn between the invasion of Ukraine and the Holocaust, Haaretz reported.

Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed in what is the biggest European conflict since World War II. According to the United Nations over 3 million people have fled the fighting to become refugees in other countries.

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