News and Analysis

‘Sure Sounds A Lot Like Hitler’: Critics Compare Putin’s Justification On Ukraine To Germany’s In Sudetenland
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT - "KREMLIN PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Russian President Vladimir Putin summons meeting of Russia's Security Council at Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on February 21, 2022. (Photo by Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Critics compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to German dictator Adolf Hitler, saying that his justification for recognizing independent territories inside Ukraine’s borders was reminiscent of the Nazi dictator’s excuse for annexing part of what was then known as Czechoslovakia.

Don’t like comparisons to WWII but #Putin sure sounds a lot like Hitler justifying 1938 Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia’s German-speaking #Sudetenland. Europe and the USA must respond, steady and strong. This will be messy and scary,” Fox News regular Geraldo Rivera said.

Rivera’s comment came just after the Kremlin announced its plan to recognize two regions inside Ukraine’s borders — Donetsk and Luhansk — as independent Republics. Putin followed that announcement with a press conference confirming the plan and promptly signed treaties with the two “republics.” The immediate response to the treaties was the concern that Russia could use them as a pretext for sending troops into Ukraine, claiming that they were there to defend their new allies rather than to invade.

As The Daily Wire reported:

“Today, the leadership of the [Donetsk People’s Republic] and [Luhansk People’s Republic] received appeals to recognize their sovereignty in connection with the military aggression of the Ukrainian authorities, massive shelling of the territory of Donbas, as a result of which the civilian population suffers,” the Kremlin said in a statement. “With all this in mind, the President of Russia said that he intended to sign a corresponding decree in the near future.”

Putin said during a press conference, “I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.”

Rivera was not the only one to make a connection to the Sudetenland — a region in what was then Czechoslovakia that was primarily inhabited by ethnic Germans. Hitler demanded that Germany be allowed to annex the region in 1938, threatening war if he was not given what he wanted. In September of 1938, representatives from Britain, France, Italy, and Germany signed the Munich Pact: Germany would annex the Sudetenland in exchange for a pledge of peace. Less than six months had passed when he ordered the invasion, taking control of Bohemia and Moravia in March of 1939. It was just under one year after the Munich Pact was signed, on September 1, 1939, when Hitler’s troops invaded Poland.

“In a fiery speech, Putin made the case that Ukraine is by history and makeup an integral part of Russia. Shades of Hitler and the Sudetenland,” RC deWinter tweeted.

War studies professor and author Peter Caddick Adams added, “My friends across Russia are reporting that some adult males are beginning to receive papers telling them to report to local military bases. Cannot say how widespread this is, but sounds like a partial mobilization.”

The immediate response to Adams — from screenwriter John Orloff — was simple: “Ugh. Any student of history can see Sudetenland and the eventual occupation of all of what was then Czechoslovakia…”

“Major ‘the people in the Sudetenland are basically Germans anyway, what’s the big deal?’ energy in this Putin speech,” Sarah Rumpf tweeted.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell agreed, adding, “Getting really strong Sudetenland vibes here. Assume he will end speech with ‘Meine Geduld ist zu Ende.’”

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