Lithuanian President: 'Comparisons between Vladimir Putin and Hitler are spot on'

Dalia Grybauskaite is the latest in a long line of politicians to liken the two

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The Independent Online

The President of Lithuania has joined a long line of politicians to compare Vladimir Putin’s tactics to those used by Hitler.

Dalia Grybauskaite told Focus, a German news magazine, that the Russian government was trying to use cheaper oil and gas as leverage to persuade Baltic states to leave Nato.

She said: “[Putin] uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means. That's exactly what Stalin and Hitler did. Such comparisons are spot on."

Ms Grybauskaite said Russian foreign policy was "characterised by aggressiveness, violence, and a willingness to overstep boundaries", adding that Baltic states and Poland "constantly" experienced it, with military exercises taking place almost every week in Kaliningrad, Russia's western enclave between Poland and Lithuania.

Relations between Putin and Western leaders looked a bit frosty during commemorations for the D-Day landings, anniversary in Normandy.

She claimed Russia was trying to maintain its influence in parts of the former Soviet Union and wanted to keep the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia dependent on its energy.

Although Ms Grybauskaite believes a Russian invasion of the countries was unlikely given their Nato membership, she said they needed to be better defended.

The Baltic governments are increasing military spending, she said, and called on Nato to increase its presence in the region.

Ms Grybauskaite claimed the Russian President was looking back to a colonial golden age for his country

She added: "Putin has a missionary vision to defend the eastern hemisphere. He has in mind a Russia like that of the time of Catherine the Great. His character has developed strangely."

Hillary Clinton previously compared the annexation of Crimea to Hitler’s territorial moves in the years before the Second World War in March but later denied likening the Russian President to the Nazi leader.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have already called for tougher EU sanctions against Moscow after its annexation of Crimea.

The Baltic leaders said on Saturday they would back further sanctions against Russia at a European Union summit unless violence in eastern Ukraine de-escalated.

Additional reporting by Reuters