Putin evokes Stalingrad to predict victory over ‘new Nazism’ in Ukraine

  • Russian President speaks in Volgograd
  • 80 years have passed since the Soviet victory at Stalingrad
  • Putin parallels Russia’s campaign in Ukraine
  • This content was produced in Russia, where coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine is regulated by law.

VOLGOGRAD, Russia, Feb 2 (Reuters): Russia on Thursday declared defeat in Ukraine, which is believed to be in the grip of a new incarnation of Nazism, evoking the spirit of Soviet forces that defeated Nazi German forces at Stalingrad 80 years ago. .

In a fiery speech in Volgograd, known until 1961 as Stalingrad, Putin criticized Germany for helping to arm Ukraine and, not for the first time, said he was ready to draw on Russia’s entire arsenal, which includes nuclear weapons.

“Unfortunately, we see that the ideology of Nazism in its modern form and manifestation is again directly threatening the security of our country,” Putin told military officials and members of local patriotic and youth groups.

“Again and again we have to resist the onslaught of the collective West. It is unbelievable, but it is a fact: we are again threatened by German Leopard tanks with crosses.”

Russian officials have been drawing parallels with the fight against the Nazis since Russian troops entered Ukraine nearly a year ago.

Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet Union and was devastated at the hands of Hitler’s forces, rejects those parallels as bogus pretexts for a war of imperialist occupation.

Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle of World War II, and in 1942-3 the Soviet Red Army, with more than 1 million casualties, broke the rear of the German occupation forces.

Saying World War II had become a symbol of the “indestructible character of our people,” Putin said it was the spirit of Stalingrad’s defenders to explain why he thinks Russia will win in Ukraine.

“Those who lure the European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, and … those who hope for victory against Russia on the battlefield, apparently do not understand that a modern war with Russia will be completely different for them,” he added.

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“We will not send our tanks to their borders, but there is a way to respond, and it will not end with the use of armored vehicles, everyone should understand that.”

Victory Parade

When Putin finished, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Putin earlier laid flowers at the grave of the Soviet marshal who oversaw the defense of Stalingrad and visited the city’s main memorial complex, where he observed a minute’s silence in honor of the war dead.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Volgograd to watch the victory parade as planes flew overhead and modern and World War II-era tanks and armored vehicles passed by.

Some modern vehicles are painted with the letter ‘V’, the insignia used by Russia’s forces in Ukraine.

Irina Solotoreva, 61, who said her relatives fought in Stalingrad, saw a parallel with Ukraine.

“Our country is fighting for justice and freedom. We got victory in 1942 and that is an example for today’s generation. I think we will win again no matter what happens.”

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The centerpiece of the commemorations was the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex, a statue of a woman wielding a massive sword called The Motherland Calls, on a hill overlooking the Volga River.

The five-month battle left the city in tatters in the name of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, while an estimated 2 million people were killed and wounded on both sides.

A new statue of Stalin was unveiled in Volgograd on Wednesday, along with two others of Soviet Marshals Georgy Zhukov and Alexander Vasilievsky.

Although Stalin presided over famines that killed millions and political repression that killed hundreds of thousands, Russian politicians and school textbooks in recent years have emphasized his role as a successful wartime leader who turned the Soviet Union into a superpower.

Reporting by Tatiana Gomosova Writing by Andrew Osborne Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Kevin Liffey

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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