LONG BEACH, Calif., March 5 (UPI) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likened Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions toward Ukraine to those of former German dictator Adolf Hitler's in the late 1930s vis-a-vis the former Czechoslovakia and Romania.
A senior U.S. administration official said Sunday that "Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimea Peninsula" in Ukraine.
Speaking Wednesday at a private fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach, California, Clinton said of Russia's incursion into Ukraine's Crimea region:
"Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s ... All the Germans that were ... the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
Putin maintains that Russian actions in Ukraine are protective and commensurate in their concern for Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine's Crimea region, and has conveyed that message to world leaders. On Sunday, Putin spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Kremlin provided a read-out of their conversation:
"Vladimir Putin drew the Federal Chancellor's attention to the unrelenting threat of violence by ultra-nationalist forces, endangering the lives and legitimate interests of Russian citizens and the entire Russian-speaking population. It was stressed that the measures being taken by Russia correspond fully to the extraordinary current situation."
Clinton described Putin as one "who believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness."
"When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia."
Expressing hope that "a negotiation that respects Ukraine and doesn't ratify a reoccupation by Russia of Crimea" will lead to "a diplomatic solution," Clinton said she thinks such negotiations will start in Crimea.