"He's obviously a nationalist, an extreme nationalist, and he's obviously an imperialist. This is an individual who clearly believes that, if he's able, he has the right and the ability to invade another country, to alter borders through military force. We're not at Hitleresque proportions, but this is really disconcerting. This is a major power threatening global peace and security in this way and I don't think it's to be taken lightly," Harper said in an interview Sunday, broadcast in Canada.
The remarks were greeted approvingly by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in Ottawa Sunday for an official visit.
"They're very forthright remarks and I think that they're perfectly appropriate remarks for the Canadian prime minister to make. Let's not minimize the affront to international stability and the affront to the ordinary norms of behavior between nations that Russia has been responsible for," Abbott said, adding, "This should stop. No country has a right to bully another country just because it can."
Although he did not compare Putin to Hitler, Harper noted World War II could have been avoided if early Germany aggression was contained, a lesson he believes applies to modern-day Russia.
"Our foreign policy obviously incorporates those kinds of lessons," he said.