NEW YORK (VINnews) — Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine and pledged to oversee a “demilitarization and de-Nazification” of the country — which is led by a Jewish president.
Hours before Putin’s televised address, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky had delivered his own final, powerful but ultimately fruitless plea for peace. Zelensky referred to Putin’s invocation of Nazism in his speech.
Addressing the Russian public directly and in Russian, his native language, Zelenskiy said: “The Ukraine on your news and Ukraine in real life are two completely different countries — and the main difference between them is: Ours is real. You are told we are Nazis. But could a people who lost more than 8 million lives in the battle against Nazism support Nazism?”
After a pregnant pause, Zelenskiy, who is Jewish — though he did not explicitly say that in the video — added: “How can I be a Nazi? Explain it to my grandfather, who went through the entire war in the infantry of the Soviet army, and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine.”
On a visit to Israel in 2020, the Ukrainian president said that three of his grandfather’s brothers were killed in the Holocaust.
Zelenskiy called on Russians to consider the cost of war and debunked Putin’s talking points.
“What are you fighting for and with whom?” Zelenskiy asked Russians. “Many of you have been to Ukraine. Many of you have family in Ukraine. Some have studied in Ukrainian universities. Some have been friends with Ukrainians. You know our character. You know our people. You know our principles. You know what we value. So listen to yourselves. Listen to reason.”