Russia's Sergei Lavrov Compares Ukraine to Palestine

A video of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that for Russians to not lose sleep over the Ukraine war, they must imagine the eastern European country is "Palestine," has been shared by the Russian embassy in Geneva.

"When the United States declares that there is a threat to the United States 10,000 kilometers from the border of the United States, some people were grumbling, some were expressing their concern, but there was no hysteria like the one we witness today," he said in the video footage, shared on May 11. It is not immediately clear when it was recorded.

"When Russia, having warned for many, many years, that this is going to be a problem that we cannot tolerate a threat which NATO and the United States have been building just on our border, not 10,000 kilometers away," he said, laughing.

"You know, there was one interesting message I saw in Telegram from the Middle East. They say if you 'cannot sleep' because of the Russian conflict, there are some advices to calm you down. First, imagine this is happening in Africa. Imagine this is happening in the Middle East. Imagine Ukraine is Palestine, imagine Russia is the United States."

The video has picked up traction online, being viewed more than 80,000 times.

Newsweek has contacted Israel's foreign ministry for comment. Newsweek has also contacted the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs.

The comments are likely to irk many Africans and Israel. Just last week, Lavrov was on a state visit to Algeria to deepen Russian ties with the North African country.

Only recently Israel's government was deeply offended by comments Lavrov made about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, and Adolf Hitler.

In an interview on Italian television on May 1, Lavrov claimed that Zelensky being Jewish "does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine," repeating a line pushed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify invading Ukraine in February.

"I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood, some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews," Lavrov added.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the comments as "unforgivable" and "outrageous."

"Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error," Lapid said on Twitter. "Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of anti-Semitism."

On May 5, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office said Putin had apologized for Lavrov's comments.

Some celebrities, such as Palestinian-American model sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid, have compared the conflict in Ukraine with the plight of the Palestinians. Although many Palestinians have shown support for these sorts of comparisons, they have offended many Israelis, who believe there are no similarities. For example, many point out that Ukraine is a sovereign, democratic country, but don't consider Palestine as a state.

Lavrov Moscow
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a press conference with UN Secretary-General António Guterres following their talks in Moscow on April 26, 2022. Lavrov has compared Ukraine to Africa and Palestine in a recent video. Getty