Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "a tough guy with a thin skin," a day after she drew a parallel between his recent actions on the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s.
Clinton sought to clarify her remarks at a fundraiser on Tuesday that Putin's actions are similar what happened in the Nazi era in Czechoslovakia and Romania. Clinton said during her a speech at the University of California, Los Angeles, that she was not making a comparison although Russia's actions were "reminiscent" of claims Germany made in the 1930s.
"The claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into eastern Ukraine because they had to protect the Russian minorities, that is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland and Czechoslovakia and elsewhere throughout Europe," she said.
"I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective. I am not making a comparison, certainly. But I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before," she said.
Putin has said he was protecting ethnic Russians by moving troops into Crimea.
Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, warned during her a speech that "all parties should avoid steps that could be misinterpreted or lead to miscalculation at this delicate time."
She echoed President Obama's assessment that Russia's intervention was a violation of international law, and she said she supported the administration's call for Russia "to refrain from the threat or use of force."
Clinton said Putin is trying to "re-Sovietize" the periphery of Russia but is actually squandering the potential of his nation and "threatening instability and even the peace of Europe."
In recent days, some Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have criticized the Obama administration's policy in Ukraine. Other lawmakers have questioned why there was no clear warning of Moscow's military intentions.
Kathryn Stoner, a Russia expert at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said she considered Clinton's comparison between Putin and the tactics of Nazi-era Germany "a bit of a stretch," in part because Putin "doesn't look like he is intent on spreading across the Ukraine and permanently occupying this area."
In a delicate diplomatic situation "I don't think it's helpful on either side to say things like this, but in these crises it happens," Stoner added.
Fox News' Ross Lee and The Associated Press contributed to this report.