Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, speaks to Crimean Premier Sergei Aksyonov while visiting Crimea in Simferopol, Crimea, Monday, March 31, 2014. On a surprise visit Monday to Crimea, Russia’s prime minister promised to quickly pour funds into the newly annexed peninsula so residents see positive changes after the Russian takeover. Dmitry Medvedev, who led a delegation of Cabinet ministers to Crimea, pledged that Russia will quickly boost salaries and pensions there and pour in resources to improve education, health care and local infrastructure. A special government ministry has been created to oversee Crimea’s development. (AP Photo/Alexandr Polegenko) (The Associated Press)
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaks at a meeting for the economic development of Crimea in Simferopol, Crimea, Monday, March 31, 2014. Russia's prime minister is visiting Crimea to consider priorities for its economic development following the Russian takeover. Dmitry Medvedev is leading a delegation of Cabinet ministers and is chairing a meeting Monday to discuss priorities for federal assistance to the region, which Russia annexed from Ukraine earlier this month. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexander Astafyev, Government Press Service) (The Associated Press)
BERLIN – Germany's influential finance minister says Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea employed tactics reminiscent of those used by Adolf Hitler to expand Germany's territory before World War II.
Wolfgang Schaeuble told a school group visiting his ministry Monday that Putin's contention Russian nationals were at risk in Crimea was like Hitler's claim ethnic Germans were being discriminated against in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia before Germany annexed it in 1938, the dpa news agency reported.
"Hitler already took over the Sudetenland with such methods," Schaeuble said at the public event, though he added that he was not comparing Russia to Nazi Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to comment on the remarks, saying only that she saw the Russian annexation of Crimea as a "violation of international law."