Dalia Grybauskaite
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. Photo by Reuters
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GERMANY (Reuters) - Lithuania's president has likened the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin to those of Hitler and Stalin in an interview with a German magazine.

Putin "uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means," Dalia Grybauskaite told German news magazine Focus on Sunday. "That's exactly what Stalin and Hitler did. Such comparisons are spot on."

Grybauskaite said Russia wanted to maintain its influence in territories that were once part of the Soviet Union and added that it particularly wanted to keep the Baltic states dependent on it economically and in terms of energy policy.

She said Russia wanted the Baltic states - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - to become "unreliable members of NATO and the EU".

Grybauskaite said the West should seek to become economically independent of Russia and diversify, because it was "too risky" for countries to continue to depend on Russia.

"Putin has a missionary vision to defend the eastern hemisphere. He has in mind a Russia like that of the time of Catherine the Great. His character has developed strangely," she said.

Russia and Putin were "characterised by aggressiveness, violence, and a willingness to overstep boundaries," Grybauskaite said.