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Russian forces damage Holocaust memorial site, Ukraine says

The damage to Drobitsky Yar marked the second such incident in a war that has heavily featured inflammatory rhetoric about Nazis.

Russian forces damaged a Holocaust memorial near the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s ministry of defense said Saturday, the second such incident since Russia invaded Ukraine a month ago.

The ministry said in a Twitter post that the Drobitsky Yar memorial near Kharkiv was hit by Russian forces. It separately cited continued shelling around the city.

An estimated 15,000 Jews were shot or forced into mass graves at Drobitsky Yar, a ravine outside the eastern city of Kharkiv.  

The damage to the memorial site takes place amid a war that has heavily featured inflammatory rhetoric about Nazis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated reason for invading Ukraine was to rid the country of so-called Nazi elements. Experts have slammed the allegations as slanderous and false

Yet Putin's use of the terminology has persisted since he launched the invasion, and he has repeatedly attempted to draw parallels between the actions of Ukraine and the West with Nazi Germany.

Ukrainians, in turn, have pointed out the hypocrisy and likened the invading Russian forces to Nazis.

"The Nazis have returned. Exactly 80 years later," the ministry posted on Twitter on Saturday with a photograph of the memorial’s damaged menorah. NBC News could not independently verify the photo.

Earlier this month, Zelenskyy — who is Jewish and said three of his family members died in World War II — invoked the barbarism of the Holocaust when Russian forces hit a television tower next to Babi Yar, a memorial site where Nazis massacred an estimated 33,000 Jews in 1941.

That attack killed five people and drew international condemnation. There was no evidence that Babi Yar, thought to be one of the largest mass graves in Europe, was deliberately targeted.

On Saturday, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center noted the damage to Drobitsky Yar.

"Russia continues to attack not only the civilian population of Ukraine but also the places of remembrance," it said on Twitter.