Thursday, November 09, 2023
Businessman and GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy faced controversy during a recent Republican debate when he appeared to label Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a "Nazi."
Ramaswamy criticised Ukraine as anti-democratic and suggested it did not deserve US aid. However, his campaign later clarified that he misspoke and was referring to an incident in Canada where lawmakers applauded a 98-year-old former Waffen-SS Galicia Division fighter after a speech by Zelensky.
Ramaswamy's spokesperson, Tricia McLaughlin, explained that he stumbled over his words while trying to reference the controversial moment in Canada.
The incident in September involved the invitation of Yaroslav Hunka, a former Waffen-SS Galicia Division soldier, to a Canadian parliamentary address by Zelensky. Hunka's presence sparked controversy and led to the resignation of then-House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota, who acknowledged his error in recognising the former soldier.
While Ramaswamy's spokesperson insisted that he was not calling Zelensky a Nazi but referencing the Canadian incident, critics argued that his comments played into Russian propaganda.
Russia has falsely labelled the Ukrainian government and its leaders as Nazis, employing the term "denazification" to justify its invasion of Ukraine.
Retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis criticised Ramaswamy for repeating "offensive Kremlin talking points," and Garry Kasparov, a Russian chess champion and human rights activist, suggested that Ramaswamy might be a "Ukrainian secret agent" parodying pro-Putin MAGA propagandists.
Former Trump White House official Alyssa Farah Griffin condemned the comments as offensive and accused Ramaswamy of contributing to rising global antisemitism.