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German minister compares Crimea to Sudetenland

BERLIN (AP) — 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."

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