The United States and Israel have condemned comments made by Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in which he likened Western nations’ actions against Moscow’s war in Ukraine to the Holocaust.
“Our first reaction is how dare he compare anything to the Holocaust, anything, let alone a war that they started,” John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday, referring to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine 11 months ago.
Mr. Lavrov said at an annual news conference on Wednesday that the United States had gathered a coalition of European countries that is using Ukraine as a proxy to solve “the Russian question.” He compared such actions to those of Adolf Hitler, “who sought a final solution to the ‘Jewish question.’”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry called Mr. Lavrov’s remarks “unacceptable.” It said in a statement that relating current events to the Holocaust — the systematic killing of millions of European Jews — “distorts the historical truth, desecrates the memory of those who perished and the survivors” and should be “strongly rejected.”
Ariel Muzicant, the president of the European Jewish Congress, an organization that represents Jewish groups across the continent, said in a statement that Mr. Lavrov’s remarks were “Holocaust distortion at its most basic level.”
It is not the first time Mr. Lavrov has drawn ire for such comments. Last May, Israel condemned his assertion that Jews were “the biggest antisemites” and his false claim that Hitler had Jewish roots.
“This is not the first time the minister has used Holocaust equivalence and Hitler references,” Mr. Musicant said. “This must stop.”
Israel has walked a fine line during Russia’s war in Ukraine. Although it has expressed support for Kyiv, it has also tried to avoid damaging relations with Russia, which has a large military presence in Syria, Israel’s neighbor.
In March, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was also criticized in Israel when, in a virtual address to the country’s Parliament, he compared the suffering of Ukrainians in the war to that of Jews during the Holocaust.