Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenReuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded on Monday to comments made a day earlier by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood.

In a post on Twitter, Blinken quoted Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s condemnation of the remarks.

“My friend Yair Lapid put it perfectly. It is incumbent on the world to speak out against such vile, dangerous rhetoric and support our Ukrainian partners in the face of the Kremlin’s vicious assault,” he wrote.

Lavrov caused an uproar after an interview with an Italian news channel in which he referred to the fact that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and said, “In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything. For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest antisemites were Jewish.”

Earlier on Monday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that it had summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov for “clarification” in response to Lavrov’s comments.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chided Lavrov, calling his comparison of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine to the war against Nazi Germany “untrue”.

Following more strident condemnations by other Israeli leaders, Bennett did not call Lavrov’s comments racist or anti-Semitic, choosing instead a more restrained response.

"I view with utmost severity the Russian Foreign Minister's statement," Bennett said Monday afternoon. “His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong. The goal of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history, which were perpetrated against them, and thereby absolve Israel's enemies of responsibility.”

“As I have already said, no war in our time is like the Holocaust or is comparable to the Holocaust. The use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political tool must cease immediately."

Zelenskyy on Monday responded to Lavrov and said that his comments show that Moscow "has forgotten all the lessons of World War II or perhaps never learned them."

"I have no words...No one has heard any denial or any justification from Moscow. All we have from there is silence.... this means that the Russian leadership has forgotten all the lessons of World War II," he said in his nightly video message.

"Or perhaps they have never learned those lessons," he added.