Russian president, Vladimir Putin has compared Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the fight against Nazi Germany, in a speech to mark the 80th anniversary of the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad.
Russia launched its bloody, full-scale invasion almost one year ago, prompting Western countries to send weapons and aid to the government in Kyiv.
Throughout the war in Ukraine, Putin has falsely sought to present Russia’s invasion as a battle against nationalists and Nazis who he claims are leading the Kyiv government.
Putin was in Volgograd, the modern name for Stalingrad -to mark the anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, the World War Two conflict which saw the Soviet army capture nearly 91,000 German troops and turn the tide of the war.
Over a million people perished in the battle – the bloodiest of World War Two.
Germany is one of many countries helping Ukraine defend its territory by giving it weapons most especially Leopard tanks last week
Citing Germany’s decision to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Putin claimed history was repeating itself.
“It’s unbelievable but true,” he said. “We are again being threatened by German Leopard tanks.”
Putin then hinted that he could seek to move beyond conventional weapons.
“Those who hope to defeat Russia on the battlefield do not understand, it seems, that a modern war with Russia will be very different for them,” the 70-year-old leader said.
“We are not sending our tanks to their borders, but we have the means to respond. It won’t be limited to the use of armoured hardware. Everyone must understand this.”
After the event, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to elaborate on Putin’s comments, but did tell reporters that “as new weapons are delivered by the collective West, Russia will make greater use of its potential to respond”.
Putin continued to liken Ukraine war to war against Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
“Now, unfortunately, we see that the ideology of Nazism, already in its modern guise, in its modern manifestation, again creates direct threats to the security of our country,” he said.
“Again and again we have to repel the aggression of the collective West.”
Volgograd was temporarily renamed Stalingrad for the day to mark the occasion, and earlier this week a new bust of the former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was unveiled.
Putin also laid flowers at the grave of the Soviet marshal who oversaw the defence of the city, and visited the main memorial complex where he led a moment of silence for those that died in the battle.
❗️"Unbelievable, but it is the facts. We are again threatened with German tanks, Leopards, that carry crosses on them. And again they want to fight Russia in Ukraine with the hands of Nazi collaborators, with the hands of Banderites," sVladimir Putin pic.twitter.com/7DwPydTzJS
— 🇷🇺Jacob🇷🇺Charite🇷🇺 (@jaccocharite) February 3, 2023