Moscow: Israelis are fighting in the Ukrainian "Azov" battalion

 The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday that "Israeli mercenaries" are fighting in Ukraine alongside the "Azov" brigade, which Moscow describes as a "Nazi", a day after statements referring to Hitler's Jewish origin, which sparked sharp controversy.


"I will say something that Israeli politicians probably do not want to hear, but which may help them. In Ukraine, Israeli mercenaries stand side by side with Azov fighters," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Sputnik radio.


The Ukrainian "Azov" battalion was founded in 2014 by activists from the far-right before it was integrated into the regular forces, and it has proven to be one of the fiercest opponents of the Russian forces that have launched a military attack on Ukraine since February 24.


Its members, along with other Ukrainian fighters, especially refused to lay down their weapons in the besieged port of Mariupol (southeast), where the last defenders of the city are holed up in the Azovstal metallurgical plant, which Moscow forces launched an attack on Tuesday.


A number of Ukrainians see the members of the "Azov" battalion as "heroes", but Russia considers them "fascists" and "Nazis" who commit atrocities.


By asserting that the Israelis are fighting on the side of "Azov", Moscow continues to stir up the controversy that began after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke on Sunday about Adolf Hitler's "Jewish blood."


The statements angered Israel, which it described as "scandalous and unforgivable" and a "horrific historical mistake."


On Tuesday evening, the Russian Foreign Ministry added fuel to the fire, accusing Israel of "supporting the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv."


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a Jew.

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