Putin says Russia faces German tanks, just like at Stalingrad, but hints that this time Moscow has nukes
Putin made another veiled nuclear threat on Thursday as the Ukraine war rages on.
This came as the Russian leader likened the war to the battle of Stalingrad during WWII.
But in the case of Stalingrad, Russia (then part of the USSR) was being invaded — not doing the invading.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday leveled another veiled nuclear threat in relation to the war in Ukraine as he ripped into Germany for providing battle tanks to Kyiv, while comparing Russia's unprovoked invasion of its next-door neighbor to the Soviet Union's fight against the Nazis during World War II.
"Unfortunately we see that the ideology of Nazism in its modern form and manifestation again directly threatens the security of our country," Putin said during a speech in Volgograd, per Reuters. Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad after the Soviet dictator, was the site of the World War II battle that put Nazi Germany on the path to defeat at an estimated cost of 750,000 Soviet lives.
"Again and again we have to repel the aggression of the collective West. It's incredible but it's a fact: we are again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on them," Putin added.
The Russian leader left out some key facts, however. The Leopard tanks will be operated by Ukrainians, and Germany joined the US and the UK in offering battle tanks to aid Ukraine in regaining territory it has lost since Russia invaded almost a year ago. The US and other Western powers have avoided providing longer-range missiles and fighter jets that Ukraine could use to strike inside Russia.
Putin said that the battle of Stalingrad was indicative of "the indestructible nature of our people," adding that those who draw European countries into a new war with Moscow and "expect to win a victory over Russia on the battlefield, apparently don't understand that a modern war with Russia will be quite different for them."
"We don't send our tanks to their borders but we have the means to respond, and it won't end with the use of armored vehicles, everyone must understand that," Putin said, in an apparent reference to Russia's nuclear arsenal. The Russian leader has repeatedly made nuclear threats since the war began, and has been condemned across the world as a result.
Russian lawmakers have reportedly been urged to make comparisons between Stalingrad — a battle against Nazi invaders — and the present-day fight in Ukraine, despite the fact Russia is now the aggressor. Putin has frequently harkened to WWII — which Russians remember as the Great Patriotic War — to seek greater support as the country faces economic hardships and well over 100,000 casualties from Ukraine.
Putin has offered a series of justifications for launching the invasion, including the bogus assertion that Ukraine is led by neo-Nazis. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and lost family in the Holocaust, but the Kremlin has continued to make references to Nazism in an effort to justify the ongoing war.
Top Russia experts say Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine because he has been preoccupied with subjugating it for years and wants to restore the power and prestige enjoyed by Moscow during the Soviet era. Putin, who has repeatedly suggested that Ukraine is not a real country, once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.
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