Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said it is “deeply embarrassing” members of his parliament gave two standing ovations to a man who fought for the Nazis during the Second World War.
Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was recognised in the House of Commons lower chamber during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday.
Mr Hunka was invited by Speaker Anthony Rota, who introduced him as a war hero who fought for the First Ukrainian Division.
However, that division was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis.
The Kremlin said on Monday that it is “outrageous” Mr Hunka was presented to Canada’s parliament as a hero.
Mr Rota, who has resisted calls to resign, had earlier apologised for inviting the war veteran and recognising him as a “Ukrainian hero”, saying he later became aware of “more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so”.
He added that he wanted to extend his deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world.
Mr Trudeau has said the speaker’s apology was the “right thing to do” and “no advance notice” of the move was provided to the Prime Minister’s Office or the Ukrainian delegation.
The Canadian prime minister said: “The speaker has acknowledged his mistake and has apologised, but this is something that is deeply embarrassing to the parliament of Canada and by extension, to all Canadians, I think particularly of Jewish MPs and all members of the Jewish community across the country who are celebrating, commemorating Yom Kippur today.
“I think it’s going to be really important that all of us push back against Russian propaganda, Russian disinformation, and continue our steadfast and unequivocal support for Ukraine as we did last week with announcing further measures to stand with Ukraine in Russia’s illegal war against it.”
Mr Rota had introduced Mr Hunka and praised him for fighting for Ukrainian independence against the Russians.
Mr Hunka received two standing ovations from members of parliament from all parties.
Pierre Poilievre, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, has blamed Mr Trudeau and the Liberal government for creating a “massive diplomatic embarrassment and shame” for not properly vetting Mr Hunka.
Meanwhile, several Jewish advocacy organisations have condemned the action.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies issued a statement on Sunday saying the division “was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable”.
“An apology is owed to every Holocaust survivor and veteran of the Second World War who fought the Nazis, and an explanation must be provided as to how this individual entered the hallowed halls of Canadian Parliament and received recognition from the Speaker of the House and a standing ovation,” the statement said.
The episode plays into the narrative promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he sent his army into Ukraine last year to “demilitarise and denazify” the country.
During World War Two, when Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union, some Ukrainian nationalists joined Nazi units because they saw the Germans as liberators from Soviet oppression.