In a speech to mark the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared his country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine to the fight against Nazi Germany.
The Battle of Stalingrad, which was fought between August 23, 1942 to February 2, 1943, was the deadliest to take place during the Second World War. An estimated two million people were killed.
During the war, Nazi Germany and its allies unsuccessfully fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad, later renamed Volgograd.
The Soviet army captured nearly 91,000 German troops, marking a major turning point of the war.
Speaking at a commemoration event in Volgograd on Thursday, the President said history was repeating itself as Germany has decided to send tanks to Ukraine, the BBC reported.
“It’s unbelievable but true… We are again being threatened by German Leopard tanks,” he said.
Germany has agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, prompting the Russian energy industry firm Fores to offer five million roubles to the first Russian soldier to destroy or capture one.
Without providing details, Putin also hinted that he could seek to move beyond conventional weapons.
“Those who hope to defeat Russia on the battlefield do not understand, it seems, that a modern war with Russia will be very different for them,” the 70-year-old leader said.
“We are not sending our tanks to their borders, but we have the means to respond. It won’t be limited to the use of armoured hardware. Everyone must understand this.”
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Putin has sought to present the ongoing war as a battle against nationalists and Nazis, who he says are leading the government in Kiev.
“Now, unfortunately, we see that the ideology of Nazism, already in its modern guise, in its modern manifestation, again creates direct threats to the security of our country,” the BBC quoted the President as saying.
“Again and again we have to repel the aggression of the collective West.”
To mark the day, Putin laid flowers at the grave of the Soviet marshal who oversaw the defence of the city, and visited the main memorial complex where he led a moment of silence for those that died in the battle.