WASHINGTON: Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton has compared Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent steps in Ukraine to aggression by Adolf Hitler in 1930s Nazi Germany.
Speaking at a private event in southern California Tuesday, Clinton said Putin’s deployment of Russian troops into neighboring Ukraine – a former Soviet satellite state – to protect Russian citizens and Russian speakers recalls moves by Hitler to protect ethnic Germans living outside of Germany.
According to The Long Beach Press Telegram, which reported the story, Clinton noted that Putin has sought to provide Russian passports to people in Ukraine who have ties to Russia.
Kiev’s new government has accused Putin of inflaming tensions by sending troops into the Crimea, a majority-Russian peninsula in Ukraine.
“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s,” Clinton told guests at a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Long Beach.
“The ethnic Germans [the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places] Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. ‘I must go and protect my people,’ and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous,” she added.
Clinton is a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, and has generally shied away from public discussion of foreign policy since leaving the State Department early last year.
She was the chief U.S. diplomat in Barack Obama’s much-publicized move to “reset” relations with Moscow in 2009.
With Russian forces seizing control of the strategic Crimea, Clinton said Putin “believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness” by reasserting dominance over former Soviet states.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 06, 2014, on page 11.