Russian President Vladimir Putin drew parallels between the current situation and World War II on the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, saying that Germany is again threatening Russia with tanks. His message regarding the Ukraine conflict was a stern warning against outside interference.
Celebrations of Stalingrad’s anniversary kicked off with a military parade and wreath-laying ceremonies. There were soldiers from various branches of the armed forces, and some companies even wore period costumes. Next, thousands of people lined the streets as modern military vehicles and World War II T34 tanks drove by while elderly veterans watched from a VIP platform. Finally, a moment of silence was held to commemorate the two million lives lost.
Putin arrived in Volgograd later that day, where he paid his respects at the “Mother Homeland” statue. After that, he briefly addressed the assembled veterans, military personnel, and notable citizens.
Putin’s expression was stone-cold as he made his point. He likened the current crisis to WWII, claiming that Nazism now threatens Russia. He explicitly linked to Stalingrad, bringing up the German government’s decision to send “Leopard” tanks to the Ukrainian government: “Incredible. Incredibly, it’s true. Again, German tanks, this time the “Leopard” tanks with their iron cross decorations, are a threat. Moreover, they plan to enlist the support of Hitler’s heirs to wage war against Russia in Ukraine once more.”
Putin meant to draw attention to Ukrainian nationalists, who are portrayed as a threat to Russia in Russian media.
He said a word of caution to those who would try to drag Germany and the rest of Europe into a war with Russia. Putin has stated that believing Russia could be defeated in a military conflict is foolish. However, Putin warned that modern war would be different, saying: “No, we will not be stationing tanks near their frontiers. However, we do have a counter to offer. And sending in the tanks won’t solve the problem, either. That’s something everybody should know.”