Putin: "We are facing German tanks again" - Dispatch Weekly

February 2, 2023 - Reading time: 4 minutes

​In a speech marking the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, Vladimir Putin equated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the struggle against Nazi Germany.

He asserted that history was being repeated by citing Germany’s decision to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

He said: “It’s unbelievable, but true. We are facing German tanks again.”

One of several nations assisting Ukraine in defending its territory is Germany.

Nearly a year ago, Russia began its brutal, all-out invasion, provoking Western nations to contribute arms and assistance to the Kyiv administration.

Mr. Putin made a suggestion that he would try to go beyond conventional weaponry while speaking at Volgograd, the modern name for Stalingrad.

The 70-year-old leader claimed that those who aspire to destroy Russia on the battlefield do not appear to comprehend that a modern conflict with Russia will be extremely different for them.

“Although we aren’t deploying tanks to their borders, we are prepared to act. It won’t be restricted to using armoured equipment. Everyone needs to comprehend this,” he said.

Despite declining to comment further on Mr. Putin’s remarks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did tell reporters that “when new weapons are provided by the collective West, Russia will make greater use of its potential to respond.”

Mr. Putin was in Volgograd to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, which saw the Soviet army capture roughly 91,000 German soldiers and shift the tide of World War Two.

It was the bloodiest combat of World War Two and saw over a million deaths.

Mr. Putin has attempted to portray Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a struggle against nationalists and Nazis, whom he alleges are in charge of the Kyiv administration.

And he made reference to this theme repeatedly in his address.

“Now, sadly, we see that the Nazi ideology, now in its contemporary form, in its contemporary embodiment, once more causing direct risks to the security of our nation. We must consistently fend off the aggressiveness of the West,” he said.

Although it was “unbelievable but real” that German tanks were once more threatening Russia, he declared that Moscow had a response for any nation that dared to challenge it.

To commemorate the event, Volgograd was given the temporary moniker Stalingrad for the day. Earlier this week, a new bust of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was unveiled.

Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953, was charged with planning a famine in Ukraine in 1932–1933.

Estimated to have killed 5 million people, the incident — known to Ukrainians as the Holodomor — was this week recognised as a genocide in Bulgaria.

Along with visiting the major monument complex and placing flowers on the tomb of the Soviet marshal in charge of the city’s defence, Mr. Putin also observed a minute of silence at the battlefield cemetery.

Thousands of Volgograd citizens lined the streets to see a military parade in the meantime.

Tanks from both the present and World War Two moved through the city’s centre as aircraft blasted overhead. A few of the contemporary vehicles bore the letter Z, which has come to represent Russia’s invasion.

Andrey Bocharov, the regional governor who accompanied Mr. Putin to the memorial complex, was reportedly absent from the march, according to local media. He hadn’t been seen since January 24, which raised the possibility that he was withdrawing ahead of meeting the president.

Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, claimed that Russia was getting ready to exact “revenge” on the West for helping Ukraine.

“Russia is currently consolidating its forces. That is common knowledge. It is getting ready to try to exact revenge against not only Ukraine but also a free Europe and a free world,” said Mr. Zelensky.

Later, Mr. Zelensky thanked President Biden for his assistance and gave a video speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in the US. He also gave Ukrainian soldiers a deadline of one year to fight the Russian invasion.

“We must do everything we can together so that we will be able to pray simply with thanks for the accomplished salvation from evil,” he said.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.