Nazi comparisons: what's behind Moscow's rhetoric?
Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov repeated Russia's claims that the war in Ukraine is a denazification operation on the Italian TV channel Rete4 on Sunday evening. Referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he drew a comparison with Hitler and his purported Jewish ancestry. Israel reacted indignantly. Commentators warn of dangerous tendencies that also affect specific EU countries.
Madness does not absolve guilt
The claim that Ukraine is ruled by Nazis is making Lavrov look more and more absurd, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung concludes:
“The least that can be said is that his speculations about Hitler's ancestry and his conclusions that Jews are themselves the worst anti-Semites have further revealed where the real criminal racists are. The pattern is familiar: people you feel superior to want to live differently from you, and perhaps they even live better than you. Envy turns into hatred, followed by the will to destroy. And in the worst case, this will is acted on. Lavrov has once again exposed the spirit of the 'blood-and-soil' regime in the Kremlin. The madness has been exposed. But it does not absolve the guilt.”
Frenzied Kremlin wants annihilation
We must not underestimate Moscow's true intentions, warns Russia expert Hubert Smeets in his column in NRC Handelsblad:
“President Putin's aides are lashing out more brutally every day. In this frenzy, exterminationist rhetoric and disguised anti-Semitism vie for primacy. ... Now, after ten weeks it's clear that the Kremlin aims to destroy Ukrainian political and cultural sovereignty and, ultimately, the European legal framework. ... If people remain incapable of recognising that the Kremlin regime is ideologically controlled, this will also pose a threat to us.”
A dangerous propaganda campaign
Following Sweden's announcement that it wants to join Nato posters went up in Moscow accusing the country of sympathising with Nazism. Aftonbladet warns:
“They will step up the propaganda war against Sweden and portray us to the Russian population as unreliable, and at least as dangerous as Ukraine. There will be campaigns on social media, perhaps threats or violence against individuals and IT attacks. ... Electricity supplies are another sore point. ... This campaign isn't aimed at Sweden, but at the Russian population. Step by step the Russians are to be taught that we are their enemies. The aim is to create a base of support for war against Sweden, with or without conventional weapons.”