Speed Reads

Fake Nazis Real Death

Ukraine's president throws the Nazi label back at Vladimir Putin after Russia's 'evil' invasion

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed his invasion of Ukraine early Thursday would achieve the "demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish and not a Nazi, threw the Nazi label back at Putin a few hours later, accusing Russia of acting like Nazi Germany, not literally being full of Nazis.

Putin and his aides keep using the Nazi slur against Ukraine's government because it hits Russians "in the gut," former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul explained on MSNBC early Thursday. "The most important event for Russian and Soviet citizens is something called the Great Patriotic War — we call it World War II. That was the defeat of Nazis, where they lost millions of people. Every single Russian today has a relative that died in that war"

McFaul also agreed with Zelensky that Putin is, in fact, acting a lot like Adolf Hitler in this instance.

Ironically, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is making Germany reconsider its post–World War II farewell to arms. Hitler and his Nazis are so universally reviled, of course, because they killed tens of millions of people while trying to conquer much of the world and exterminate the Jews. This war of Nazi analogies might lean toward entertaining if people weren't dying in the actual invasion.