Mar 8, 2022 - World

"Pure Nazi behavior": Zelensky turns to American Jews with pleas for support

Photo of Volodymyr Zelensky standing with purple flowers in his hands
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits border troops in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Feb. 17. Photo: Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is comparing Russia's invasion to Nazi Germany's campaign of oppression in a plea to American Jews as he continues to press the West for stronger military assistance and a no-fly zone, Reuters reports.

What he's saying: "This is just a pure Nazi behavior. I can't even qualify this in any different manner," Zelensky said on a Monday call with the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, per Reuters.

  • Russian forces have killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 1.7 million refugees to flee Ukraine since they first attacked, Zelensky said. Ukrainians have held their ground despite being outnumbered and lacking weapons.
  • "They are throwing themselves under the tanks — just for you to understand what's happening here," Zelensky, who is Jewish, told the group.
  • In the cities targeted by Russian forces, people are barred from leaving, Zelensky added. They lack food and water and have lost connection to electricity as well as the Internet.

The bottom line: "All of this happened during Nazi times," he said. "The survival of the Ukrainian nation — the question will be the same as antisemitism. ... All of these millions of people are going to be exterminated."

The big picture: NATO and the U.S. have so far refrained from committing to a no-fly zone.

  • The International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed in Ukraine.
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