LONDON/MOSCOW: Prince Charles’s comparison of Vladimir Putin with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler triggered a diplomatic row yesterday when Moscow scolded the heir to the British throne for what it said was an outrageous attempt to sully Russia’s reputation over Ukraine.
During a trip to Canada, the 65-year-old prince told a Jewish woman who fled from Poland during World War Two that in Ukraine “Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler”, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
Charles’s remarks, described by a royal source as “well-intentioned” and not meant to be public, caused a stir in Britain because the royal family is not expected to voice political views in public.
“If these words were truly spoken, then without doubt, they do not reflect well on the future British monarch,” a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry told a news conference.
“We view the use of the Western press by members of the British royal family to spread the propaganda campaign against Russia on a pressing issue — that is, the situation in Ukraine — as unacceptable, outrageous and low.”
Putin, a former KGB spy who has repeatedly spoken about the sacrifices of what Russians call the Great Patriotic War, lost a brother in the Nazi siege of Leningrad.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who has scolded the Kremlin for annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, declined to comment on Charles’s reported remarks.
When asked whether it was appropriate to compare Putin with Hitler given that one of Putin’s brothers died during the Nazi siege of Leningrad, Cameron said: “I am not going to comment someone’s private conversation, least of all Prince Charles.”