Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday at a press conference in Moscow actually equated the Holocaust – the genocide of the Jewish people by Hitler’s Germany during the Second World War – and the murders of representatives of other nations by the Nazis. Lavrov said this while commenting on Israel’s operation against the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, recognized as a terrorist in the USA and the EU. According to the Russian minister, “Israelis should not be given the impression that because they suffered in the Second World War, everything is possible for them today.”
“Yes, there was a Holocaust, it’s a terrible crime. But there was also a genocide of all the peoples of the Soviet Union. They suffered no less… According to this logic, then everything should be possible for us now, everything is allowed,” Lavrov said, in particular .
The victims of the Holocaust were about six million Jews, many of whom were citizens of the USSR. Jews were purposefully exterminated in Nazi death camps. Israel and a number of other countries, in particular Germany, emphasize the uniqueness of the Holocaust – even in comparison with other crimes committed by the Nazis. In recent years, courts in Russia have made decisions recognizing the actions of the Nazis in the occupied Soviet territories during the Second World War as “genocide of the peoples of the USSR”. At the time, the Nuremberg Tribunal recognized the fact of numerous crimes committed by the Nazis against non-Jewish residents of the USSR, but did not characterize them as genocide.
Official Moscow criticizes Israel, accusing it of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.
In 2022, Israel protested against Lavrov’s words that Adolf Hitler allegedly “had Jewish blood”, and in 2023 – against the Russian minister’s comparison of Western policy towards Russia with Hitler’s actions against the Jews.
At the press conference, Lavrov also touched on the issue of relations with the United States and the war in Ukraine. He repeated again that Russia will achieve the so-called goals of the special military operation: “There is no hope that Russia will be defeated in any way,” he said in particular. Lavrov once again accused Ukraine and the West of not wanting to negotiate, but demanded that Ukraine “reject Nazi ideology” and “refuse to join NATO.”
Speaking about relations with the United States, Lavrov said that last December, Russia rejected the proposals of the United States for strategic stability. According to the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow continues to insist on its demands, expressed in December 2021, shortly before the large-scale invasion of Ukraine. At that time, Russia, in particular, demanded an ultimatum to abandon further NATO expansion and return the NATO infrastructure on the eastern flank to the state of 1997. These demands were rejected.
According to Lavrov, now there are no conditions “not only for additional joint measures in the field of arms control and reducing strategic risks, but also in general for any conversation with the United States about strategic stability.” At the same time, the Russian minister said that Vladimir Putin has never threatened the West with nuclear weapons. Putin did not do this directly, but he repeatedly mentioned the possibility of its use in the event of a threat to the “territorial integrity” of Russia (in the understanding of the Russian authorities, this “integrity” also extends to a number of Ukrainian territories). In addition, high-ranking Russian representatives, such as Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s deputy in the Security Council, spoke directly about possible nuclear strikes. Lavrov himself said that the “nuclear risks” are now “increasing” due to the “pressure” that, according to him, the West is exerting on Russia.
- Shortly after the start of the invasion of Ukraine 2 years ago, Putin ordered to put the nuclear forces on high alert. Last year, Russia deployed tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. It also suspended its participation in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the United States and denounced the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.