In the Republican debate, businessman and GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy faced backlash for his remarks that seemed to label Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “Nazi.” This comment sparked immediate controversy, leading to criticism from various quarters.
Ramaswamy’s campaign quickly responded to the controversy, clarifying that he misspoke. According to his spokesperson, Tricia McLaughlin, Ramaswamy intended to reference a specific incident in Canada, not directly label Zelensky as a Nazi.
The incident in question involved Yaroslav Hunka, a former Waffen-SS Galicia Division soldier, being recognized during a Canadian parliamentary address by Zelensky. This recognition led to significant controversy and the resignation of the then-House of Commons Speaker, Anthony Rota.
Despite the clarification, critics were quick to point out that Ramaswamy’s comments inadvertently played into Russian propaganda, which has consistently and falsely labelled the Ukrainian government as Nazis. High-profile figures like retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis and Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov condemned the remarks.
Kasparov humorously suggested that Ramaswamy might be a “Ukrainian secret agent” mocking pro-Putin MAGA propagandists. Additionally, former Trump White House official Alyssa Farah Griffin criticized the comments, highlighting their potential contribution to rising global antisemitism.