House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin is being “very evil” with his deployment of troops into eastern Ukraine and that he’s behaving like Adolf Hitler ahead of World War II.
Putin’s decision to openly send Russian troops into separatist-held areas of Ukraine on Monday is akin to the Nazi takeover of ethnically German parts of what was then Czechoslovakia, Pelsoi (D-Calif.) said at a Capitol press conference.
“This is a very evil move on the part of Vladimir Putin. He’s a KGB guy who happens to be probably the richest man in the world because of his exploitation of his own people that he doesn’t want them to know about,” she said.
“[Putin] uses excuses like — it’s changed — every time you hear him say, ‘Well, they’re part of us. That’s who we are. They should be us.’ Now they’re saying, ‘But we have to go in because they want to be part of NATO.’ My friends, this is our moment. This is the Sudetenland. That’s what people were saying there,” Pelosi added.
“You cannot ignore what Putin is doing. And nobody is of course ignoring it — but you cannot take it any lighter than what it is: a total assault on democracy.”
Hitler acquired the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in 1938 via the Munich Agreement with France and the UK just months after taking over Austria. British Minister Neville Chamberlain infamously claimed the deal would bring “peace for our time.”
Pelosi slammed Putin while praising President Biden’s initially limited sanctions against Russia.
“This is the same tyrant who attacked our democracy in 2016,” Pelosi said, referring to the publication of emails allegedly hacked by Russia from the Democratic National Committee and prominent Democrats including Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
“When we talk about the president, he’s doing the sanctions. He has a full picture of all this,” she said. “I think we’re very well served, respect his judgment — and again, it’s not just about when you do the sanctions or how you support the people, it’s about how the world views what Putin is doing.”
Biden on Wednesday is expected to impose sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which Germany’s government this week said would not be allowed to open due to Putin’s moves into Ukraine. Biden came under withering Republican criticism last year for waiving sanctions against the Baltic Sea project, which would have piped fuel directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.
Biden on Tuesday announced sanctions against two Kremlin-backed banks and restricted Russia’s government from trading its debt on Western finance markets. He said leading individuals in Russian society also would face sanctions, though Putin’s personal wealth is not expected to be initially targeted.
Biden for weeks warned that Putin was plotting a massive invasion of Ukraine. On Monday, Putin delivered a rambling address describing parts of Ukraine as “ancient Russian lands” before recognizing as independent countries the pro-Russia rebel states in Donetsk and Luhansk.
The Donetsk and Luhansk separatists began a long-running war against Ukraine’s central government in 2014 when Biden was vice president. The Kremlin-backed rebellion followed Russia’s annexation of Crimea after a popular uprising ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.