Once again, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has caused widespread outrage by comparing his nation’s international isolation — the result of last year’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine — to the murder of European Jews during the Holocaust.“Just as Hitler wanted a ‘final solution’ to the Jewish question, now, if you read Western politicians … they clearly say Russia must suffer a strategic defeat,” Lavrov, a close and longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Wednesday. Israel sharply denounced Lavrov’s self-pitying view of European history — and of the European present, where Russia, not Germany, is seen as the greatest threat to peace and prosperity on the continent. “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,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and memorial in Jerusalem, criticized what it described as “an affront to the actual victims of Nazism” on Lavrov’s part, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In Washington, Lavrov’s comments — which singled out the United States, the organizing force behind the coalition supporting Ukraine — were met with an equally strong rebuke. “Our first reaction is, how dare he compare anything to the Holocaust — anything — let alone a war that they started?” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told Yahoo News at a Wednesday press briefing. “It’s almost so absurd that it’s not worth responding to,” Kirby said of Lavrov’s provocative musings.