Ukraine defence minister calls Vladimir Putin the ‘Hitler of our time’

Nazi comparison is no ‘exaggeration’, says Reznikov

Liam James
Thursday 17 March 2022 11:51 GMT
Biden calls Putin a 'war criminal'

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Louise Thomas

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Ukraine’s defence minister said Vladimir Putin was the “Hitler of the 21st century” and accused Russian troops of committing genocide in Mariupol.

Addressing a Nato meeting in Brussels, Oleksii Reznikov said it was not a “metaphor or an exaggeration” to compare the Kremlin and its leader with the Nazi dictator.

He cited the high number of civilians killed in the besieged city of Mariupol since the Russian invasion as evidence that Moscow was carrying out a genocide of Ukrainians.

Mariupol has been the target of a brutal Russian assault lasting around a fortnight. Residents in the southern port city have been left without food, power and forced to drink from radiators.

Missile strikes and shelling have killed more than 2,300 civilians, according to local authorities, although others have claimed the death toll may be as high as 20,000.

Addressing German MPs on Thursday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called for more help for his country, saying thousands of people have been killed in the war that started almost a month ago, including 108 children. He also referred to the dire situation in Mariupol.

“Everything is a target for them,” he said, including “a theatre where hundreds of people found shelter that was flattened yesterday”.

Local officals have blamed Russia for several attacks on civilian sites including a hospital and, on Wednesday, a theatre in which hundreds of residents were sheltering.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

In Russian-targeted cities across Ukraine, civilians have been reported dead after the shelling of residential areas.

Mr Reznikov also appeared before the European parliament on Wednesday to call for Mr Putin to be recognised as a war criminal – as Joe Biden used the term against the Russian president for the first time.

The EU has not said Mr Putin himself is a war criminal but a majority of EU member states backed an International Criminal Court investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said last week that the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol may have been a war crime.

Mr Biden’s condemnation followed an address to the US Congress by Volodymyr Zelensky, who repeated a call for western allies to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine to defend against the Russian air assault which he said had “turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death”.

The Kremlin has denied targeting civilians and said Mr Biden’s accusation was “unacceptable”.

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