White House hits back at Russia's 'absurd' Final Solution comparison

White House fires back at Russia’s ‘offensive’ and ‘absurd’ claim comparing the West’s actions in Ukraine to Hitler’s Final Solution

  • White House spokesman John Kirby condemned the Russian comments
  • He expressed fury at the comparison between the West and Hitler 
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the claims in a news conference 
  • He claimed US and Europe’s goal was a ‘Final Solution to the Russian Question’ 
  • The top diplomat also hailed joint military drills between Beijing and Moscow 
  • The White House hit back at Vladimir Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, saying his comparison of Western action in Ukraine with Hitler’s Final Solution was ‘absurd’ and ‘offensive.’ 

During a rambling press conference in which he praised joint military drills between Moscow and Beijing, Lavrov compared the US to Adolf Hitler and Napoleon, who he said mobilised European countries against the Russian empire.

By supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invading forces, Lavrov claimed that Washington was leading Europe in a proxy war against Russia, with the goal of a ‘Final Solution to the Russian Question’ – likening it to Hitler’s genocidal aims.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby expressed outrage at the suggestion. 

‘Our first reaction is, how dare he compare anything to the Holocaust, anything … let alone a war that they started,’ he said.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby (left) hit back at Vladimir Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, saying his comparison of Western action in Ukraine with Hitler’s Final Solution was ‘absurd’ and ‘offensive’

A Ukrainian T-72 tank maneuvers through the trees in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, 18 January 2023. The UK said at the weekend it would send main battle tanks to Ukraine

Kirby was asked for his response during a press briefing call with reporters.

And he shredded Putin’s claims that Ukraine posed a threat to Russia.  

‘From the very beginning, he has tried to cast this as the Mother Russia being under threat — false,’ he said in tones of fury and exasperation.

‘He’s tried to couch this as US versus Russia, NATO versus Russia, the West versus …

‘And you heard some of that ridiculous, ludicrous claim from Lavrov today that this is somehow the West lining up, you know, and threatening Russia’s right to exist. It’s it’s, it’s almost so absurd that it’s not worth responding to.

‘Other than the truly offensive manner in which he tried to cast us in terms of Hitler and the Holocaust.’

Kirby said the West was merely providing Ukraine with the means to defend itself against Russian aggression. 

Russia’s top diplomat was criticized by Israel last year for saying Hitler was part Jewish and that the worst anti-Semites were Jews, after being asked why Moscow incorrectly portrays Zelensky, who has a Jewish background, as a Nazi. 

Speaking on Wednesday, Lavrov said the US was attempting to ‘contain’ both Russia and China with the help of other countries, but they were alert to its ‘games’.

He told the gathered press that the West saw both countries as a threat – Russia right now, and China in the longer term as a systemic rival.

He said Washington was not powerful enough to keep in check both countries at once, so was mobilising Europe, Japan and others to join it. At the same time, he said, the West was trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China.

Lavrov also accused the West of searching for ways to anger China on a host of issues, such as the status of Tibet and Taiwan – which lives under constant threat of invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled democracy as part of its territory to be retaken one day, by force if necessary. The US has said it would help defend Taiwan.

He said China was too powerful for the United States to stand against on its own should the two countries be drawn into a conflict, so Washington was being forced to ‘mobilise’ the West to support its anti-Beijing agenda. 

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend his annual news conference, in Moscow, on January 18

Russia and China signed a ‘no limits’ partnership last February, days before Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine. Their economic links have boomed as Russia’s connections with the West have shrivelled. Pictured: Vladimir Putin meets with Xi Jinping on February 4, 2022

Several people, including children and Ukraine’s Interior Minister, die in helicopter crash beside nursery near Kyiv

‘They have already outlined their positions on Taiwan, which are absolutely unacceptable for China and for international law, they are looking for more and more opportunities to irritate China in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong,’ he said.

‘Therefore, China is well aware that remaining in the Western system and completely dependent on the West is fraught with very serious risks for the fundamental national interests of China’s development.’       

His comments underlined the strategic importance to Moscow of its relationship with China at a time when its army is struggling in Ukraine and its economic links with the West have been wrecked by successive waves of sanctions.

Ties with Beijing had never been stronger, Lavrov said, and the two countries were shifting an increasing amount of their trade into their national currencies to reduce dependence on the West and exposure to sanctions.

Russia and China signed a ‘no limits’ partnership last February, days before Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine. Their economic links have boomed as Russia’s connections with the West have shrivelled.

Putin has been relying on Beijing to bail him out amid the strong sanctions. 

However, Russian President Putin has publicly acknowledged that his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping has ‘concerns’ over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

On Ukraine, Lavrov said Moscow saw no prospects of peace talks and there could be no negotiations with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russia has said talks are possible only if Ukraine recognises Moscow’s claims to Ukrainian territory; Kyiv says it will fight until Russia withdraws from all of Ukraine.

He  compared the West’s approach to Russia to Hitler’s ‘final solution’, the Holocaust plot to murder all European Jews. Since before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, Russia has sought to portray Kyiv as being run by a Nazi government.

He has explained his decision to send troops into Ukraine on February 24 as the need to ‘demilitarise’ and ‘denazify’ Ukraine, to prevent the neighbouring country from joining Nato, and to protect Russian speakers living there. 

This approach has been heavily criticised as being disinformation, racist and as a cover for an unprovoked act of aggression.

Pictured: Dnipro residents gather outside a destroyed Ukrainian apartment building which was destroyed by a Russian missile on Saturday

Pictured: Ukrainian rescue workers searching through rubble for survivors after a Russian missile struck an apartment block in Dnipro, killing at least 45 people, on Saturday

Despite Russia suffering a series of setbacks in its war in Ukraine, Lavrov said the goals of Moscow’s so-called ‘special military operation’ are ‘determined by Russia’s core legitimate interests’ and will be fulfilled.

‘There must be no military infrastructure in Ukraine that poses a direct threat to our country,’ he said, adding that Moscow also intends to make sure the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are protected. 

Speaking at his marathon annual news conference, Lavrov dismissed Zelensky’s demands for a complete Russian withdrawal from Ukraine.

He also dismissed Ukraine’s insistence on payments for war damages and the prosecution of war criminals as a platform for future talks, saying ‘there can be no talks with Zelensky’.

Lavrov alleged ‘the West makes all the decisions for Ukraine’ with the goal of using the conflict to exhaust Russia. Nato members have provided Ukraine with substantial military aid.

‘The amount of Western support clearly shows that the West has invested a lot in its war against Russia,’ he said. ‘It’s the West that makes the decisions. And it has made decisions for Ukraine and without Ukraine.’

He asserted that Russia’s action in Ukraine is ‘our response to a hybrid war unleashed against us’ by the West.

He said Russia is ready to ‘seriously consider’ any Western initiatives on ending the conflict but added: ‘We haven’t seen any serious proposals yet.’

Firefighters work near the site where a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, outside the capital Kyiv, killing Sixteen people, including two children and Ukrainian interior minister, on January 18, 2023

Any future Russian talks with Western representatives should not be limited to Ukraine, Lavrov continued. ‘It makes no sense to talk to the West only about Ukraine.

‘The West is using Ukraine to destroy the security system that existed in the Euro-Atlantic region for a long time and hinged on consensus, indivisibility of security and settlement of all issues through dialogue and co-operation.’

He warned that Russia’s showdown with the West over Ukraine is part of global policy shifts that will evolve over a long period.

‘The process of forming a multipolar world order will be long; it will take an epoch,’ he said. ‘And we are in the middle of that process now.’

He cited Western efforts to hamper the widening co-operation between Russia and China, maintaining that they will not succeed.

Lavrov said Russia’s relations with the West ‘will never be the same’ and accused the West of failing to observe signed agreements with Russia. ‘Never again there will be a situation when you lie, sign documents and then refuse to fulfil them,’ he said.

Lavrov’s comments came as Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said her husband had written to Chinese leader Xi Jinping inviting him to talks which was handed over in Davos to the Chinese delegation.

Zelensky has repeatedly sought to make contact with Xi since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year in the hope that Beijing will use its influence over Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

During a speech on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, Zelenska said she had a letter for Xi but she gave new details during a press conference on Wednesday.

Olena Zelenska (pictured), wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said her husband had written to Chinese leader Xi Jinping inviting him to talks with her country

‘It was a gesture and invitation to dialogue and I hope very much that there will be a response to this invitation,’ she told reporters.

China and Russia announced a ‘no limits’ partnership in February last year in August, shortly before Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine.

China has sought to position itself as neutral in the war, while at the same time deepening ties with Moscow, particularly in the energy sector.

But some analysts have suggested Beijing could ultimately step in as a mediator to negotiate an end to the fighting in Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi called last September ‘on all parties concerned to keep the crisis from spilling over,’ underlining concern about the economic impact of the conflict which has affected countries worldwide.

Zelensky told the South China Morning Post newspaper in August he had ‘asked officially for a conversation’ with Xi, adding that a dialogue would be ‘helpful’.

Foreign ministers from both countries met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. 

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