Russian President, Vladimir Putin has again made veiled threats against Ukraine’s Western allies, during an address commemorating the 80th anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad in World War II.
Mr Putin compared his country’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine to the fight against Nazi Germany.
Praising Soviet army gallantry as he commemorated the victory eight decades ago, President Putin again repeated unfounded claims of Nazism.
In a fiery speech in Volgograd, known as Stalingrad until 1961, he lambasted Germany for helping to arm Ukraine and said, not for the first time, that 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 again directly threatens the security of our country,” Mr Putin told an audience of army officers and members of local patriotic and youth groups.
“Again and again we have to repel the aggression of the collective West. It’s incredible but it’s a fact: we are again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on them.”
Russian officials have been drawing parallels with the struggle against the Nazis ever since Russian forces entered Ukraine on February 24, last year.
Ukraine — which was part of the Soviet Union and itself suffered devastation at the hands of Hitler’s forces — rejects those parallels as spurious pretexts for a war of imperial conquest.
A recent ABC report describes Stalingrad as the bloodiest battle of World War II, when the Soviet Red Army, at a cost of over 1 million casualties, broke the back of German invasion forces in 1942-3.
Mr Putin evoked what he said was the spirit of the defenders of Stalingrad to explain why he thought Russia would prevail in Ukraine, saying the World War II battle had become a symbol of “the indestructible nature of our people”.
“Those who draw European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, and … expect to win a victory over Russia on the battlefield, apparently don’t understand that a modern war with Russia will be quite different for them.
“We don’t send our tanks to their borders but we have the means to respond, and it won’t end with the use of armoured vehicles, everyone must understand that.”
Mr Putin also laid a wreath at the eternal flame of the memorial complex to the fallen Red Army soldiers, where he led a moment of silence for those who died in the battle.
Meanwhile, the European Commission president has said the EU will have a new package of anti-Russia sanctions in place soon.
Also, a Russian missile attack on apartment buildings in Ukraine’s Kramatorsk killed at least three people on Thursday evening.
Writing by Tony Okerafor