Participants wear vests depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stavropol March 29, 2014.
Participants wear vests depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a support rally in Stavropol March 29, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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AP
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble speaks during a budget conference in Berlin Photo by AP

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hilter in connection to the Crimea crisis.

"Hitler already adopted such methods in Sudetenland," Schaeuble said Monday during a lecture to students visiting his office in Berlin. "That's something that we all know from history."

Schaeuble was referring to Russia's justifications for invading Crimea, specifically the argument that the Russian citizens on the peninsula were under threat. In 1938, the Nazis claimed they were protecting the volksdeutsche (German people) who lived in Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, on the border with Germany.

The German minister related to the crisis in Ukkaine after a student asked if it would have an impact on the Euro crisis. Schaeuble explained that if the government in Ukraine won't be able to pay salaries to its security forces, "then of course some armed bands would seek to take power," which, he added, would give Russia an excuse to intervene.

"The Russians would then say they can't accept that, that they are threatening our Russian population. Now we have to protect them, and that is our reason for invading," he said.

Nearly a month ago, Hillary Clinton made the same comparison. 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.