The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom posted a caricature of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday that drew accusation of antisemitism.
The drawing portrays Ukraine’s Jewish leader as cartoon character Bart Simpson, writing “I will not fire missiles towards Poland anymore” repeatedly on a chalkboard. The text of the Tweet reads “Firing missiles at a NATO member state is probably not the best way to join the alliance,” referring to a missile likely fired by Ukrainian forces that landed in Poland, killing two. Initial reports mistakenly attributed the fire to Russia.
Responses on the social media platform, though, noted the Zelenskyy caricature’s exaggeratedly large nose. “Goebbels would be so proud of whoever posted this,” one user replied.
Another wrote that Zelenskyy “has a big Jewish nose but your country is still losing the war. Ever wonder if your contempt for ethnic minorities motivates people to fight harder?”
Other comments mentioned that Russia invaded Ukraine under the pretense of “denazifying” the country: “You simply cannot accuse other countries of being Nazis then follow it up by posting stuff like this, that’s not in the rule book,” one Tweet read. Another comment: “Not only is this antisemitic, but this is a hell of an admonishment to make while you are LITERALLY FIRING MISSILES AT UKRAINE.”
This is not the first time Russia has come under fire for antisemitism in its portrayals of Zelenskyy or its approach to the war in Ukraine. Last month, Russia’s chief rabbi called on Moscow to condemn a top security official over an article he had written claiming that “neo-pagan cults” had taken over Ukraine.
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Alexei Pavlov, the assistant secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, cited influential Ukrainian oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Viktor Pinchuk’s links to the Chabad Hasidic movement, whose main principle, he claimed is its members’ superiority “above all nations and peoples.” Pavlov argued that it has become “increasingly urgent to carry out the desatanization of Ukraine.”
In a May interview with an Italian television channel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov compared Zelenskyy to Adolf Hitler. He also said that Zelenskyy’s Jewishness does not negate his country’s Nazi elements, claiming that Hitler also “had Jewish blood.” He continued, “The wise Jewish people said that the most ardent antisemites are usually Jews.” His statements were roundly condemned by Ukrainian and Israeli officials.