Hillary Clinton clarifies her comparison of Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler while discussing the Ukrainian crisis.
Potential Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday tried to clarify comments that left the impression she had compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to German dictator Adolf Hitler. Ms Clinton, as President Barack Obama's secretary of state in his first term, was a key player in a US effort to reset relations with Russia, a policy that critics say now appears to be a glaring failure. On Tuesday, Ms Clinton had said Mr Putin's incursion into the Crimea region of southern Ukraine was akin to moves Hitler made in the years before World War Two.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram quoted Clinton as telling a private fundraiser in California: "Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the '30s." "All the Germans that were, you know, 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," she said.
With a solitary Ukrainian athlete taking part in the opening ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Paralympics in Sochi against the backdrop of his country's military action in Crimea.
War was coming to Europe and the French president, Raymond Poincare, was literally at sea. Poincare’s trip across the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg to shore up France’s alliance with Russia in July 1914 cut him off from outside contact for days, adding one more layer of uncertainty to the chaotic, ultimately failed diplomacy that ended in World War I.
A century later, as Russian President Vladimir Putin menaces Ukraine, the world hasn’t banished the risks of the miscommunications, clumsy judgments and botched intelligence that blindsided Europe in 1914, said Max Hastings, a British military historian.
“There’s a huge risk of a miscalculation,” said Hastings, whose latest book, “Catastrophe,” covers the descent into World War I. “We don’t yet know what Putin’s real agenda is. Is he trying to restore Russia’s grip on the whole Ukraine, does he want to re-annex the Crimea?”
To be sure, Hastings said, there is no appetite for war in the West and Putin has a rational sense of Russia’s limits. The major powers of 100 years ago shared a willingness to use force that has since been bred out of Europe’s DNA, one of the reasons why the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.
Historians are still puzzling out how a local act of terrorism -- the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on June 28, 1914 -- could set in motion a chain of events that led to the German army marching in to neutral Belgium six weeks later. “I shall never be able to understand how it happened,” the novelist Rebecca West is quoted in “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914,” by Christopher Clark, a history professor at Cambridge University.
Clark’s book, which counts German Chancellor Angela Merkel among its readers, blames murky, often undemocratic national decision-making in a European state system that was “opaque and unpredictable, feeding a pervasive mood of mutual distrust, even within the respective alliances.” The wars of the 20th century gave birth to the academic field of conflict prevention and the arsenal of early-warning systems, fact-finding missions and confidence-building measures practiced by the likes of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
After annexing Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin could also be eyeing opportunities to conquer the Baltic States and Finland, former Putin aide Andrej Illarionov told The Independent. Finland had previously been an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian empire for 108 years until the country became independent in 1917, after World War I. "[Putin] could well say that the Bolsheviks in 1917 committed treason against Russian national interests by granting Finland's independence," Illarionov, who was Putin's chief economic adviser from 2000 to 2005, told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
Illarionov warned that Putin is seeking to reincorporate territories that he sees as belonging to the former grandeur of the Russian empire. “Putin’s view is that he protects what belongs to him and his predecessors,” Illarionov added. Finland, unlike the Baltic States to its south, is not a NATO member and can not count on any defensive alliances to secure it against Russian aggression. The Finnish army has responded by starting a 24/7 live monitoring operation of the exercises. Finding a precedent to invade Finland would be substantially more difficult for Putin than justifying his annexation of Crimea. Whereas upwards of 60% of Crimea's population is Russian, Russians make up less than 1% of Finland's population, according to the CIA's World Factbook.
Russia attacked Finland in late November 1939. This film tells the story of a Finnish platoon of reservists from the municipality of Kauhava in the province of Pohjanmaa/Ostrobothnia who leave their homes and go to war. The Soviets were convinced they could win the war in a matter of days. No one expected that tiny Finland could resist the highly mechanized Red Army, the largest military force in the world. And no one anticipated that 1939 would be one of the coldest winters in recorded history.
The war between Russia and Finland, generally referred to as the Winter War, lasted from November 30th 1939 to March 13th, 1940. The Winter War was a direct result of the Nazi-Soviet Non-aggression Pact of August 1939. The public face of this treaty was a ten-year period of non-aggression between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia. There was a secret side to it however, which stated that Russia would attack Poland in September 1939 and would have more rights to determine its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.
After the fall of Poland in September 1939, Russia sought to extend its influence over the Baltic and between September and October 1939, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia were all made to sign treaties “of mutual assistance” that allowed Russia to establish military bases in each of the three Baltic states. Many people assumed that Finland would be Russia’s next target. On October 5th, 1939, Russia invited Finnish representatives to Moscow to discuss “political questions”. Finland sent to the meeting J K Paasikivi who met Stalin and Molotov to discuss land questions on the Finnish/Russian border. The meeting started on October 12th.
To defend the approach to Leningrad, Stalin wanted Finnish islands in the Gulf of Finland, including Suursaari Island, handed over to Russia; he wanted to lease Hanko as a military base and to establish a garrison of 5,000 men there and he demanded more Finnish land on the Russian border to be ceded to Russia. In return, Stalin offered Finland land in Soviet Karelia and the right for Finland to fortify the Aaland Islands. Stalin couched all his land requirements in terms of defending parts of Russia, be it Leningrad or Murmansk, from attack.
Prince Charles has sensationally likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. In a withering verdict on the actions of the Russian president in Ukraine, he told a woman who lost relatives in the Nazi Holocaust: ‘And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.’ The prince’s extraordinary intervention is certain to cause international controversy.
Prince Charles, pictured welcoming Vladimir Putin on a state visit to Britain in 2003, likened the Russian leader to Hitler while speaking to a Jewish woman in Nova Scotia, Canada
It is likely to be seen as a criticism of the West for failing to confront Mr Putin over his seizure of Crimea. The annexation was the first by a major power in Europe since 1945. Observers have compared the crisis in Ukraine with Hitler’s takeovers of Czechoslovakia and Poland. They have pointed to the similar use of disguised special forces to stir up tensions in disputed areas.
Charles, who is scheduled to meet Mr Putin at the D-Day commemorations in France on June 6, made his well-intentioned but unguarded comment during a visit to the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The prince is on a whistlestop tour of Canada with the Duchess of Cornwall – they have 41 engagements in just three and a half days.
The Prince of Wales smiles as he meets young earth Rangers in Bonshaw Park on Prince Edward island on the third day of their Royal trip to Canada
A senior Russian ambassador is to meet an official from the Foreign Office on Thursday after the Prince of Wales caused a diplomatic row by comparing Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
The Prince made his remark, in which he likened Russia’s annexation of Crimea to the actions of Nazi Germany, during a visit to a museum of immigration in Halifax, Canada. He told a woman whose relations were murdered in the Holocaust: “And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.” Russian diplomats contacted the Foreign Office on Wednesday night seeking an urgent meeting to clarify whether Prince Charles’s provocative remarks amounted to an “official position”. As a result, Russia’s deputy ambassador will meet a senior FCO official on Thursday.
Nick Clegg has defended the Prince over his comparison, saying that the heir to the throne is “entitled to his views”. The Deputy Prime Minister told BBC Breakfast: “I have never been of the view that if you are a member of the Royal family somehow you have to enter into some sort of Trappist vow of silence. I think he is entitled to his views.”
The comments are regarded as particularly offensive by Moscow as 20 million Russians were killed during the war, including members of Mr Putin’s family. A senior Russian diplomatic source said: “We are seeking clarification [from the FCO] at a working level. It’s not clear if it is an official position. The response from Clarence House is it was a private talk. We hope there is nothing behind it. But it is unclear to us: what does it mean? He is the future king, after all.”
The source added: “It is very serious. Every family in our country lost someone in that war.” After years of thaw, including the awarding of medals to the British veterans of the Second World War Arctic Convoys, British and Russian relations were put into “deep freeze” after the Russian occupation of Crimea.