Russia's President Vladimir Putin has issued a rare formal apology to Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennet during a Thursday phone call, an Israeli statement has said.
“The Prime Minister accepted President Putin’s apology for Lavrov’s remarks and thanked him for clarifying the President’s attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said.
However, the Russian statement didn't reference the apology, instead saying the two leaders talked about the Nazi defeat during WWII head of Russia's Monday 'Victory Day' celebrations.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had days ago slammed remarks made by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov explaining why part of Russia's war aim in Ukraine is to 'deNazify' it when President Zelensky is Jewish as “unforgivable and scandalous and a horrible historical error.”
“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,” Lavrov had controversially stated Lavrov's words made headlines around the world, and were promptly condemned by US and European officials.
The remarks had created a days-long diplomatic row between the two countries. Lavrov had further in the interview explained that the “most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews.” Moscow for its part has been outraged that for years Western media and politicians have been cheerleading far-right nationalist groups in Ukraine that have long been widely acknowledged as neo-Nazi in ideology, Azov regiment foremost.
Also during the Thursday call the standoff at Azovstal iron and steel works was discussed, as the Israeli leader has sought to mediate the situation as calls for a ceasefire and allowance for all remaining civilians to be able to exit the site grow. Fierce fighting has been ongoing there over the past days, also as an emergency UN humanitarian team seeks direct access to the besieged plant.