TIME Ukraine

Clinton Backtracks on Putin Nazi Comparison

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to students at the University of California, Los Angeles, on the subject of leadership on March 5, 2014 Nick Ut—AP

The former Secretary of State walked back comparisons to Hitler but remained critical of the Russian President

Speaking at an event at UCLA on Wednesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied she drew a parallel between Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine and Nazi Germany at a fundraiser on Tuesday.

“I’m not making a comparison, certainly,” Clinton said. “But I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before.” She also called Putin “a tough guy with a thin skin.”

Clinton’s comments on Tuesday raised eyebrows after a Long Beach Press-Telegram reporter at the $1,500-a-plate fundraiser in California wrote that Clinton had spoken of similarities between the Nazi policy of offering protection to ethnic Germans outside Germany in the run-up to World War II and Vladimir Putin’s policy of offering passports to ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea region.

“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s,” she said on Tuesday. “All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people, and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”

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