Russia has protested to Germany after a German minister drew parallels between Moscow's annexation of Crimea and Nazi Germany's expansion.
Speaking to students on April 3, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that "Such methods were already adopted by [Adolf] Hitler in Sudetenland," referring to the arguments used by Nazi Germany to annex a western swath of Czechoslovakia and Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify the annexation of Crimea.
Putin cited the need to protect ethnic Russians.
In 1938, Hitler annexed the German-speaking and most defensible part of Bohemia, the Sudetenland, before invading the rest of the country.
In a statement on April 3, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said such comparisons were “unacceptable," adding that it had handed Germany's ambassador an official complaint over the matter.
In an interview, Schaeuble said: "I'm not so stupid that I would compare Hitler with anybody."
He added that if he had actually made a mistake, he would apologize.
Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately distanced herself from Schaeuble's comments, saying Russia’s annexation of Crimea was a "stand-alone" case.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in early March suggested regarding the Crimea situation that "if this all sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the '30s."
She subsequently said
she was not comparing Putin to Hitler but rather emphasizing that lessons can be applied from a tactic that has been used before.
Russian historian and political commentator Andrei Zubov in early May compared the deployment of Russian troops to Crimea to Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria, the Czechoslovak Sudetenland, and Lithuania's Memel Territory, adding that Putin had "lost his mind