Russia rebukes Germany for minister's 'Hitler comparison' on Crimea

MOSCOW (AFP) - The Russian foreign ministry on Thursday issued a complaint to the German ambassador after a German minister reportedly drew parallels between Moscow's annexation of Crimea and Hitler's actions in 1938.

On Monday a report in Der Spiegel said Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble compared Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region last month to Nazi aggression in Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that such historical parallels were "unacceptable" and that it had handed Germany's ambassador to Moscow, Ruediger von Fritsch, an official complaint over the matter.

"We consider such pseudo-historical digressions by the German minister to be provocative," the Russian ministry said.

"His analogies are a crude manipulation of historical events and facts."

Mr Schaeuble on Thursday denied having compared Crimea's annexation to that of the mainly ethnic German Sudetenland by Nazi Germany.

"I'm not stupid enough to compare Hitler to anybody, others can do that but German politicians don't do that, we don't do that," Mr Schaeuble said when questioned on German television late Thursday.

Mr Schaeuble did not deny making the controversial remark but added: "The next sentence was 'we do not compare'".

He said the media reports on the ministry event where he had spoken and the fact that "half a sentence was reported out of context" were "not serious".

Mr Schaeuble, an outspoken veteran politician, reportedly told schoolchildren at the event: "Such methods were already adopted by Hitler in Sudetenland," referring to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The German-speaking part of Bohemia, the Sudetenland, was ceded to Germany in 1938 before the outbreak of World War II when the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Nazis and Slovakia became a puppet state.

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