Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the United States had assembled a coalition of European countries to solve "the Russian question" in the same way that Adolf Hitler had sought a "final solution" to eradicate Europe's Jews.
Lavrov, who caused an international furor last year with remarks about Hitler, said Washington was using the same tactic as Napoleon and the Nazis in trying to subjugate Europe in order to destroy Russia.
Using Ukraine as a proxy, he said, "they are waging war against our country with the same task: the 'final solution' of the Russian question."
"Just as Hitler wanted a 'final solution' to the Jewish question, now, if you read Western politicians ... they clearly say Russia must suffer a strategic defeat."
What was the "Final Solution"?
The 'Final Solution' was Hitler's Holocaust blueprint, which led to the systematic murder of 6 million Jews, as well as members of other minorities.
Lavrov has caused outrage before with remarks about Hitler. Last May he said the Nazi leader had had "Jewish blood," drawing angry protests from Israel.
European Jewish leaders speak out, White House condemns
Members of the European Jewish Congress expressed concern and shock following Lavrov's remarks on Wednesday. The organization released a statement condemning the comments and demanded repercussions be made in place.
“We are shocked and appalled by this shameful comparison drawn by Minister Lavrov between the actions of a coalition of democratic countries and Hitler’s persecution and murder of six million Jews in the Shoah,” Dr. Ariel Muzicant, the President of the European Jewish Congress said.
“This is Holocaust distortion at its most basic level and we call on Mr. Lavrov to unequivocably apologize and withdraw these comments,” he added.
Muzicant also added that Russian authorities frequently make the comparison between the Holocaust and Russia's relationship with the West, demanding it come to an end. "This is not the first time the minister has used Holocaust equivalence and Hitler references," he stated, also identifying the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day - which reflects the day that the Red Army liberated Auschwitz.
The White House on Wednesday called Lavrov's statement "truly offensive."
"It's almost so absurd that it's not worth responding to, other than the truly offensive manner in which he tried to cast us in terms of Hitler and the Holocaust," White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters.