A placard bearing a rainbow flag and the face of Vladimir Putin
A placard bearing a rainbow flag and the face of Vladimir Putin (Photo: David Hudson)

A tweet by a German embassy went viral over the weekend. It was responding to a tweet from the Russian embassy in South Africa.

The Russian tweet said, “Dear subscribers, we have received a great number of letters of solidarity from South Africans, both individuals and organizations. We appreciate your support and glad you decided to stand with us today, when Russia, like 80 years ago, is fighting Nazism in Ukraine!”

The claim about fighting Nazism in Ukraine was too much for the German embassy in South Africa. It responded, “Sorry, but we can’t stay silent on this one, it’s just far too cynical. What 🇷🇺 is doing in 🇺🇦 is slaughtering innocent children, women and men for its own gain. It’s definitely not “fighting Nazism”. Shame on anyone who’s falling for this. (Sadly, we’re kinda experts on Nazism.)”

At the time of writing, the tweet has received over 146,000 likes.

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Russian authorities have repeatedly made claims about fighting Nazis in Ukraine to defend their full-scale invasion of the country.

Ahead of the invasion, President Vladimir Putin gave a video speech to his security council, saying Russia had to overthrow the “drug addicts and neo-Nazis” in Ukraine.

There are some Ukrainians with ultra-nationalist and right-wing extremist views. Following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, several volunteer militia groups formed, including one known as the Azov Battalion. It was formed by a white nationalist and some of its members say they hold neo-Nazi views.

However, the broader “Azov Movement” has had very little success in attempts to achieve political power (supported by around 2% of the electorate, according to one estimate). Instead, former comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy became President in 2019. Zelenskyy is Jewish, and has spoken of losing several family members in the Holocaust.

Zelenskyy responded to Putin’s comment by saying, “How could I be a Nazi?”

Despite this, Russian state media have continually pushed the message that Russia’s action in Ukraine is to rid the country of neo-Nazis.

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Russian soldiers
Russian soldiers (Photo: Shutterstock)

The invasion began almost two weeks ago. Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan yesterday Russia would end its action only if Ukraine stopped fighting back and gave in to his demands. However, commentators say that the attack is likely to be proceeding slower than Putin anticipated, having met stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces.

Germany, as no one disputes, does indeed know about Nazism, given it was Hitler’s Nazi party that coined the term.

Many appreciated the South African German embassy’s tweet.

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