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Crimea Moves Draw Comparisons to US in Iraq, Nazis in Europe

Crimea Moves Draw Comparisons to US in Iraq, Nazis in Europei
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Kent Klein
March 07, 2014 11:26 PM
While Moscow still claims the troops who have taken control of much of Crimea are local self-defense forces, their activities have drawn comparisons with Nazi Germany's occupation of Poland and Czechoslovakia, and with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. VOA's Kent Klein reports several experts disagree.
Crimea Moves Draw Comparisons to US in Iraq, Nazis in Europe
Kent Klein
While Moscow still claims the troops who have taken control of much of Crimea are local self-defense forces, their activities have drawn comparisons with Nazi Germany's occupation of Poland and Czechoslovakia, and with the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Several experts disagree, however, on whether those comparisons are accurate.

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin behaving like Adolf Hitler?

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently suggested that Putin's claim that Russia must protect Russian minorities in Ukraine was similar to statements Hitler had made in the 1930's.

" ... when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland and Czechoslovakia and elsewhere throughout Europe," said Clinton.

That comparison resonates strongly in Central Europe, according to Atlantic Council senior fellow Jorge Benitez.

"Because at that time, the international community issued just diplomatic condemnations but didn't stand up to protect the integrity and the territory of Czechoslovakia," he said. "So there's very much a lot of pressure on the international community to see, 'How will they respond to Russia's use of force to seize Ukrainian territory in Crimea?'."

Georgetown University professor Anthony Clark Arend mostly agrees, but cautions against comparing any modern leader with Hitler.

"If we accept the fact that, okay, he's like Hitler, then it's going to say to us that we have to respond as we responded to Hitler. We have to act as we acted in World War II, and that's not the case here," said Arend.

According to James Goldgeier, Dean of the School of International Service at Washington's American University, the closest parallels with the situation in Ukraine are Russia's previous military actions in Moldova and Georgia. He said the Russians have removed a part of Ukraine's territory from the control of the central government in Kyiv.

"And this is a highly destabilizing situation for Ukraine, and it makes it difficult for Ukraine to pursue a pro-Western course, just as their actions in Georgia and Moldova have made it difficult for those countries," said Goldgeier.

Georgetown's Arend believes Putin was more concerned with what he saw as unrest on his border. "I don't think that Putin wanted any of this. I don't think that he wanted to destabilize Ukraine. I think, rather, he saw things moving in a way, and felt, 'we gotta act before things get worse.'"

Another possible parallel in Ukraine is with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Arend contends that also was a violation of international law.

"It was not authorized by the Security Council. The action was not taken in response to either an existing threat or a potential threat against the United States," said Arend.

Benitez said, however, there is a difference. "The United States went in there to remove a regime that was building weapons of mass destruction that the international community believed were there and were going to be used to harm. This is just a blatant power play in the Crimea by the Russian government to seize the territory of another country."

The ultimate resolution of the Ukraine situation will determine how it's seen by history.

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by: Not Again from: Canada
March 09, 2014 3:57 PM
The occupation of territories, on the pretext of helping "one's tribe" goes well back and before the dark ages. It is not something of a recent invention. Quite often, it was used by empires, to expand their territories. The notion of violating borders, of established states, in the 20th was very much the tribal pretext, used by facists states, later on by communist states. The US has not invaded any countries on the pretext that its people, US citizens living in the particular country, were under threat with the sole exception of Grenada, the case of the medical students at the university. Putin's military intervention in the Ukraine, was a situation in which he took advantage of the Ukrainian crisis; and given the fact that overnight the Ukraine's Crimean region was taken over, without even firing a shot; clearly indicates a high level of preparatory planning. It is very unfortunate, but the toppling of Yanukovych, was about the very serious economic crisis, not about a Uk/Ru ethnic conflict.; this Russian expansionist incursion, now may make it about a Ru/Uk ethnic conflict. If it is not resolved diplomatically; it will expand well past the Ukraine, and ethnic Russians we no longer be seen as loyal nationals, much the same as it occurred after the nazis started to expand on the same pretext, all ethnic germans suffered a devastating reaction= wipped out. EU economies will need to rapidly diversify away from any Russian dependance; minorities living in Russia will no longer feel safe; Europe will revert to 19 century nationalism, we are seeing already growing nationalist forces in most EU countries; all in all the region will become more unstable; a nuclear arms race can't be ruled out. It is all about one "prima donna" outmanuvering the other one, as in the old days of stupidity.

by: Anonymous
March 08, 2014 5:51 AM
Arrest Putin!!! He is also feeding the genocide in Syria he is forcing it to happen. War criminal cant be any clearer.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
March 08, 2014 4:13 AM
I disapprove any foreign army deployment in any sovereign country. However, who needs such appalling reporting as this and whom are you willing to fool? Such unprofessional “reporting” undermines public trust to mass media all over the world. The reporter was elementary dishonest or was heavily, very heavily biased. Even children know no reporting can be torn off its context. How can the ‘reporter’ hide the facts known by everybody in the world? The deployment in Crimea hasn’t happened as if out of nowhere but had been preceded by unconstitutional overthrow of constitutionally elected president. Constitutional means to remove him from power hadn’t been tried out. Instead there had been launched coup d’état with ultra-nationalist, far-right forces at its the core. So, in order to be honest, the reporting should have started from the ultra-nationalist, far-right coup d’état in Kyiv.

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