Putin compares US to Third Reich


Richard Moore

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    Putin Is Said to Compare US Policies to Third Reich
    By Andrew E. Kramer
    The New York Times
    Thursday 10 May 2007

"Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing," he said. "They are 
only transforming, changing their appearance. In these new threats, as during 
the time of the Third Reich, are the same contempt for human life and the same 
claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world."- Russian President Vladimir 
V. Putin

Moscow - President Vladimir V. Putin obliquely compared the foreign policy of 
the United States to the Third Reich in a speech on Wednesday commemorating the 
62nd anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, apparently in an escalation of 
anti-American talk within the Russian government.

The comments were the latest in a series of sharply worded Russian criticisms of
the foreign policy of the United States - on Iraq, missile defense, NATO 
expansion and, more broadly, United States unilateralism in foreign affairs.

Many Russians say the sharper edge reflects a frustration that Russia's views, 
in particular opposition to NATO expansion, have been ignored in the West. 
Outside of Russia, however, many detected in the new tone a return to 
cold-war-style antagonism, emboldened by petroleum wealth.

Mr. Putin's analogy was a small part of a larger speech, otherwise unambiguously
congratulating Russian veterans of World War II, known here as the Great 
Patriotic War. Mr. Putin spoke from a podium in front of Lenin's mausoleum on 
Red Square before troops mustered for a military parade.

Mr. Putin called Victory Day a holiday of "huge moral importance and unifying 
power" for Russia, and went on to enumerate the lessons of that conflict for the
world today.

"We do not have the right to forget the causes of any war, which must be sought 
in the mistakes and errors of peacetime," Mr. Putin said.

"Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing," he said. "They are 
only transforming, changing their appearance. In these new threats, as during 
the time of the Third Reich, are the same contempt for human life and the same 
claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world."

The Kremlin press service declined to clarify the statement, saying Mr. Putin's 
spokesman was unavailable because of the holiday.

Sergei A. Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies, who works 
closely with the Kremlin, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Putin was 
referring to the United States and NATO. Mr. Markov said the comments should be 
interpreted in the context of a wider, philosophical discussion of the lessons 
of World War II. The speech also praised the role of the allies of the Soviet 
Union in defeating Germany.

"He intended to talk about the United States, but not only," Mr. Markov said in 
reference to the sentence mentioning the Third Reich. "The speech said that the 
Second World War teaches lessons that can be applied in today's world."

The United States, Mr. Putin has maintained, is seeking to establish a unipolar 
world to replace the bipolar balance of power of the cold war era.

In a speech in Munich on Feb. 10, he characterized the United States as "One 
single center of power: One single center of force. One single center of 
decision making. This is the world of one master, one sovereign."

The victory in World War II, achieved at the cost of roughly 27 million Soviet 
citizens, still echoes loudly in the politics of the former Soviet Union, 
particularly in Russia's relations with the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and

In his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Putin criticized Estonia, also indirectly, for 
recently relocating a monument to the Red Army in Tallinn, the Estonian capital,
along with the remains of unknown soldiers buried there. Mr. Putin warned that 
such changes to war memorials was "sowing discord and new distrust between 
states and people." The remarks were a nod to the protests in Russia and Estonia
after the relocation of the Bronze Soldier memorial from the city center to a 
military cemetery.

In his Victory Day speech last May, Mr. Putin brushed on similar themes of the 
lessons of the war. Then, he spoke of the need to stem "racial enmity, extremism
and xenophobia" in a possible reference to rising ethnic tensions inside Russia.

Victory Day has evolved into the principal political holiday in Russia, 
replacing the Soviet-era Nov. 7 celebration, Day of the Great October Socialist 
Revolution. That holiday was canceled under Mr. Putin and replaced with the Day 
of Accord, observing a 1612 uprising against Poland, celebrated on Nov. 4.

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