Putin draws on Stalingrad glory to predict victory over 'new Nazism' in Ukraine

Russian President condemns Germany for helping to arm Ukrainian forces

Vladimir Putin lays flowers on the tomb of Soviet Marshal Vasily Chuikov, at the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. Reuters
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Russian troops are again fighting German tanks in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said during a fiery speech on the 80th anniversary of a key Soviet victory over Nazi forces in the Battle of Stalingrad.

Mr Putin used images of Second World War fighting to inspire current solders serving in Ukraine. He has also regularly called the fighting in Ukraine a battle against modern-day Nazism.

His speech in Volgograd, known as Stalingrad until 1961, featured criticism of Germany for helping to arm Ukraine and reminded the world he was ready to draw on Russia's entire arsenal, which includes nuclear weapons.

“Unfortunately we see that the ideology of Nazism in its modern form and manifestation again directly threatens the security of our country,” Mr Putin said.

“Again and again we have to repel the aggression of the collective West. It's incredible but it's a fact: we are again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on them.”

He added: “Those who draw European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, and … expect to win a victory over Russia on the battlefield apparently don't understand that a modern war with Russia will be quite different for them.

“We don't send our tanks to their borders but we have the means to respond and it won't end with the use of armoured vehicles. Everyone must understand that.”

At Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle of the Second World War, the Soviet military broke the back of German invading forces in 1942-43. Reuters

Mr Putin evoked what he called the spirit of the defenders of Stalingrad to explain why he thought Russia would prevail in Ukraine, saying the battle has become a symbol of “the indestructible nature of our people”.

Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle of Second World War, when the Soviet military, at a cost of more than one million casualties, broke the back of German invasion forces in 1942-43.

At the time, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.

Mr Putin had earlier laid flowers at the grave of the Soviet marshal who oversaw the defence of Stalingrad and visited the city's main memorial complex.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday urged European leaders visiting Kyiv to impose more sanctions on Russia.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, among those in Kyiv, said. “Russia is paying a heavy price as our sanctions are eroding its economy, throwing it back by a generation. We will keep turning up the pressure further.”

Updated: February 02, 2023, 6:23 PM