Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Orleans. Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Photo by AP
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Hillary Clinton on Tuesday compared the actions of Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s, before the outbreak of World War II.

Speaking at a private benefit in California, the former secretary of state said Putin's wish to protect the Russian minority in Ukraine recalls Hitler's protection of ethnic Germans outside Germany, according to local media.

 “Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the '30s,” Clinton said in her first detailed comments on the Ukraine crisis, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram. 

“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.”

"Putin believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness,” Clinton said according to the Telegram, including reasserting control of former Soviet countries. “When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia.”

Clinton also said she believes negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to resolve the crisis will start in the Crimean Peninsula, which has a significant Russian minority, and where Russian forces are stationed.

The potential Democratic candidate for president in 2016 also mentioned Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, to tackle the tensions.

“So everybody is hoping that there will be a negotiation but a negotiation that respects Ukraine and doesn’t ratify a reoccupation by Russia of Crimea,” the newspaper cited Clinton as saying. “So it’s a real nail-biter, right now, but nobody wants to up the rhetoric. Everybody wants to cool it in order to find a diplomatic solution and that’s what we should be trying to do." 

The Long Beach Press Telegram was the only media present at the closed 250-person benefit, according to the Washington Post.