Vladimir Putin claimed that “local nationalists and anti-Semites” killed 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during World War II. He made this statement at a meeting of the Pobeda Organizing Committee, a Kremlin advisory group, while talking to Alexander Shkolnik, the director of the Victory Museum in Moscow. Putin also said in an interview with the Russian propagandist Pavel Zarubin that “Western managers” have put a Jewish person in charge of Ukraine today. Here is the full transcript of Putin’s conversation with Shkolnik:
Putin: How many Jews were killed in Ukraine by the Nazis and collaborators that the Chief Rabbi of Russia just spoke about?
Shkolnik: I can’t give a precise answer, Mr. Putin.
Putin: I’ll tell you how many. I’ll tell you. It was 1.5 million people. Women, old people, children. One-and-a-half million people. If six million people were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, then this is a quarter of them all. Twenty-five percent of the victims. Mr. Shkolnik, who had been doing this in Ukraine?
Shkolnik: Well, as a matter of fact, this was done by Ukrainians themselves, who joined —
Putin: Which Ukrainians?
Shkolnik: — who joined the units.
Putin: Which Ukrainians?
Shkolnik: What do you mean? In what sense?
Putin: In the literal sense.
(Shkolnik tries to respond)
Putin: There were Ukrainians who saved other people. And who was doing the killing?
Shkolnik: The Nazis.
Putin: Yes. But they weren’t just Nazis. They were the very same collaborators that the Chief Rabbi of Russia was just speaking about. It was Banderites and their ilk who gave the direct orders. Even the Germans — even the SS troops — didn’t consider it possible to take part in these mass repressions. They put practically everything in the hands of local nationalists and anti-Semites. And everything we’re doing now shouldn’t just have some abstract value. These are concrete things that have connections to the present day. So I ask you to take notice of this.
Vladimir Putin talked about the Jewish background of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview. He said that “Western managers” put a Jewish person in power to hide the “inhuman nature” of Ukraine today.
Putin also said earlier this summer that Zelensky is “not a Jew but a shame to the Jewish people”, according to his “Jewish friends from childhood”.
This is not the first time the Russian authorities have made anti-Semitic remarks lately. For example, in January 2023, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov compared U.S. help to Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s attempt to wipe out the Jews in Europe.