Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Declaring war on Ukraine, Russia’s Putin cites goal of ‘denazification’ of country with Jewish president

JTA — In launching Russia’s war on Ukraine late Wednesday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin cited a purported need for “denazification” of Ukraine, a country whose president is Jewish.

“Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide… for the last eight years. And for this we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine,” Putin said in his speech, which was broadcast on state television.

Putin was referring to a claim that he has long made, starting as a justification for his 2014 invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea, that the Ukrainian military is run by secret Nazis.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine since 2019, is himself Jewish and had family members died in the Holocaust, in which more than 1 million Jews living in what is now Ukraine were murdered by the Nazis and, in some cases, by their local collaborators.

Some Ukrainian nationalists have increasingly exalted those collaborators, especially a division of the Nazi army formed with local troops, in recent years. Nazi symbols have been on display at nationalist marches.

Zelensky has expressed reservations about efforts to exalt Nazi collaborators, who fought against the Soviet Union, and last year condemned a march featuring Nazi-related symbols.

On Thursday, the Ukrainian government’s official Twitter account shared a cartoon image Thursday morning that showed Adolf Hitler smiling and touching Putin’s cheek. “This is not a ‘meme’, but our and your reality right now,” the account wrote.

Zelensky extended the comparison in a televised address Thursday in which he said that Russia had behaved like Hitler, whose bid to overtake much of Europe began with a shock invasion of a contested territory, in invading Ukraine “in a cunning way.”

— The post Declaring war on Ukraine, Russia’s Putin cites goal of ‘denazification’ of country with Jewish president appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.