Using Vladimir Zelensky’s Jewish heritage to cover for the culpability of Ukrainian nationalists in the Holocaust during WWII is disgusting, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, adding that the followers of Stepan Bandera were responsible for the killing of 1.5 million Jews.
“I think it’s important to repeat that Western handlers placed at the head of modern Ukraine an ethnic Jew, a man of Jewish background, with Jewish roots – in this way, in my opinion, covering up the anti-human basis of the current Ukrainian state,” Putin told journalist Pavel Zarubin.
“That makes the entire situation so highly disgusting, to have an ethnic Jew mask the glorification of Nazism and those who carried out the Holocaust in Ukraine at the time, exterminating 1.5 million people,” the Russian president added. “Ordinary Israeli citizens have figured this out the best. Just look at what they say online.”
Putin had just finished meeting with the ‘Victory’ Committee – an advisory body charged with patriotic education and veterans’ affairs. The Russian president brought up the issue during a conversation with one of the committee members, pointing out that Moscow may not have done enough to present the facts about the atrocities of Nazi collaborators in Ukraine and the Baltic states.
“When you look at actual archival documents, the blood in your veins simply freezes, it is impossible to look at it without tears, and this needs to be pulled out and shown. Who are the current authorities glorifying? These anti-humans are putting bloody killers on a pedestal, and carry banners with their portraits as they march down the main streets of their cities,” Putin told the committee.
The German military and the SS “delegated” the massacres of Jews to local nationalists and anti-Semites, like Stepan Bandera’s OUN and UPA, the Russian president pointed out.
“I’m not sure that all the people in Ukraine know about this. So let’s do what we can here to show them, all right?” Putin told the committee.
Putin has previously expressed his bafflement that Zelensky would embrace the glorification of Bandera, given his Jewish heritage. Zelensky’s grandfather, Semyon, had also fought in the Second World War, earning two Red Star medals for courage and heroism.
Bandera was declared a war criminal by both the Soviet Union and Poland for his role in the Holocaust and the mass murder of Poles in present-day western Ukraine. The pro-US government in Kiev declared him a national hero in 2010, however, and nationalists have honored him ever since with torchlight processions in major Ukrainian cities to mark his birthday every January 1.
The current Ukrainian president was previously an actor and ran for head of state in 2019 on a promise of peace with Russia, only to completely change course and embrace the hardline nationalists within months of taking office.