Putin Hitler
Russia's takeover of Crimea has sparked comparisons between the foreign policies of Vladimir Putin and Adolf HitlerReuters

Germany's finance minister Wolfgan Schäuble is the latest high profile politician to compare Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.

Schäuble, 71, said that the tactics and rhetoric used by Russia in respect of Crimea are reminiscent of those used by the Nazis to expand Germany's territory before World War II.

He told a school group visiting the ministry in Berlin that Putin justified military intervention in the southern Ukrainian peninsula claiming that ethnic Russians living there were being discriminated against - just like Hitler did when he annexed part of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

"Hitler already adopted such methods in Sudetenland," Schäuble said. "That's something that we all know from history."

Hitler invaded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia claiming it was to protect around three million German speakers living there and a year later invaded the rest of the country.

Schäuble added that Europe had to provide financial aid to Kiev to prevent Ukraine from becoming insolvent and plunging into chaos, which would give Putin an excuse to invade other parts of the country.

After German chancellor Angela Merkel commented, saying the annexation of Crimea was a "standalone case", Schäuble rectified his remarks.

"Minister Schäuble made clear in an event with students that Russia's actions in Ukraine violate international laws and he warned of the consequences of a breakdown in state order," a spokesperson for the finance minister said.

"He clearly rejected any comparison at all between Russia and the Third Reich."

Before Schäuble, Putin's foreign policy was compared to Hitler's by the former foreign minister of the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg, and former US secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The trend was initiated by a Russian historian, Andrei Zubov, who has since been fired from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations where he worked as a professor for expressing such an "irresponsible" view.