German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says Russia's seizure of Crimea is comparable to the Nazi aggression in 1938 that led to the annexation of German-speaking regions of Czechoslovakia.
After the comments were reported, Schaeuble’s spokesman sought to clarify, saying the minister was not comparing the Russia of today to Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
"We know all about that from history," Schaeuble told a group of students in a reference to Russia's rationale for annexing Ukrainian Crimea, according to Reuters. "Those are the methods that Hitler used to take over the Sudetenland."
Chancellor Angela Merkel also distanced herself from the comments, saying she regarded Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a "stand-alone" case and a violation of international law.
Earlier in March, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared Putin's steps in Ukraine to Hitler's actions.
"Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the '30s," Clinton was quoted as saying in early March, with Russian troops occupying Crimea. "All the Germans that were...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."
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP