News Putin evokes Stalingrad, predicts victory over ‘neo-Nazism’ in Ukraine
- Russian President speaks in Volgograd
- 80 years since the Soviet victory at Stalingrad
- Putin draws parallels to Russia’s campaign in Ukraine
- This content was produced in Russia, where laws restrict coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.
VOLGOGRAD, Russia, Feb 2 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin recalled the spirit of the Soviet army that defeated Nazi Germany’s forces at Stalingrad 80 years ago, declaring on Thursday that Russia would defeat the Ukraine allegedly under the control of a neo-Nazi avatar.
It was not the first time that Putin delivered a fiery speech in Volgograd (known as Stalingrad until 1961) in which he berated Germany for helping arm Ukraine and said he was ready to use Russia’s entire arsenal, including nuclear weapons time.
“Unfortunately, we see that the ideology of Nazism in its modern form and manifestation is once again a direct threat to the security of our country,” Putin told an audience of military officers and local patriot and youth groups.
“Time and time again, we have had to repel collective Western aggression. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true: we’re again threatened by German Panther tanks with crosses on them.”
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Since Russian troops entered Ukraine about a year ago, Russian officials have been comparing them to the fight against the Nazis.
Ukraine – once part of the Soviet Union and devastated at the hands of Hitler’s troops – rejects these similarities as a false pretext for imperial wars of conquest.
The Battle of Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle of World War II when the Soviet Red Army routed a German invasion force in 1942-3 at a cost of more than 1 million casualties.
Putin used what he called the spirit of the defenders of Stalingrad to explain why he thought Russia would win in Ukraine, saying the World War II battle had become a symbol of “the indestructible nature of our people”.
“Those who are drawing European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, and … expecting to win against Russia on the battlefield, obviously don’t understand that a modern war with Russia is going to be very different for them Same,” he added.
“We’re not going to send our tanks to their borders, but we have the means to respond, and it doesn’t end with the use of armored vehicles, and everyone has to understand that.”
After Putin finished speaking, the audience stood up and applauded.
Putin had earlier laid flowers at the grave of the Soviet marshal who oversaw the defense of Stalingrad and visited the city’s main memorial complex, where he observed a minute’s silence for those killed in battle.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Volgograd to watch the victory parade as planes flew overhead and modern and World War II-era tanks and armored vehicles passed by.
Some modern vehicles are painted with the letter “V,” a symbol used by the Russian military in Ukraine.
Irina Zolotoreva, 61, said her relatives fought in Stalingrad and she saw similarities with Ukraine.
“Our nation is fighting for justice and freedom. We won in 1942, and that’s an example for today’s generation. I think no matter what happens now, we will win again.”
The focus of the commemoration is the Mamayev Kurgan Memorial Complex, which stands on a hill overlooking the Volga and houses a colossal statue called “The Call of the Fatherland” – a sword-wielding woman.
The five-month battle has reduced the city named after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to rubble while killing an estimated 2 million people on both sides.
A new bust of Stalin was erected in Volgograd on Wednesday, alongside two others, of Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Alexander Vasilyevsky.
Despite Stalin’s record of famines that killed millions and political repressions that killed hundreds of thousands, in recent years Russian politicians and school textbooks have highlighted his role as a successful wartime leader, He turned the Soviet Union into a superpower.
Reporting by Tatiana Gomozova Editing by Andrew Osborn Mark Trevelyan and Kevin Liffey
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