By Hadas Gold, Katharina Krebs and Lianne Kolirin, CNN
(CNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized for comments that his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made about Hitler and Jews earlier this week in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to a statement from Bennett’s office.
The Thursday statement said, “The Prime Minister accepted President Putin’s apology for Lavrov’s remarks and thanked him for clarifying the President’s attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust.”
A bitter war of words broke out between the two countries after Lavrov sought to justify Moscow’s stated goal of “de-Nazifying” Ukraine — a baseless portrayal of the country, which is led by a Jewish president — by claiming Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood” and that “the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”
Russia’s ambassador to Israel was subsequently summoned to Israel’s foreign ministry for talks. Bennett called the assertions “lies” and Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid described them as “unforgivable and outrageous.”
Putin’s office earlier issued its own readout of the phone call, which made no mention of an apology or of Lavrov’s comment. CNN has asked Putin’s spokesman if the Russian president apologized to Bennett.
The readouts from Moscow and Jerusalem largely aligned on the other subjects that the two leaders talked about in a phone call marking Israel’s Independence Day.
The Russian account of the call said the leaders emphasized the special significance of May 9 for the people of Russia and Israel, which is celebrated as Victory Day in Russia as a momentous day for the people of Russia and Israel.
The leaders honored the memory of all the fallen, including the victims of the Holocaust, it said, while expressing their interest in the further development of friendly Russian-Israeli relations.
Bennet noted the “decisive contribution of the Red Army to the Victory over Nazism.”
Putin and Bennet also discussed the situation in Ukraine, including the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant. According to the Kremlin, Putin said that the Russian military was ready to ensure the safe exit of civilians from the plant.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked by Russian state media RIA Novosti on Thursday whether Putin’s call with Bennett touched upon Israel’s possible arms supplies to Ukraine and Lavrov’s statements.
“The topics of the conversation were listed in the statement,” Peskov told RIA Novosti.
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.