MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia is being threatened by German tanks "again" as it was during World War II, warning that Moscow is ready to respond to aggression from the West.
Speaking at events marking the 80th anniversary of the Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany in Stalingrad, Putin drew parallels between the Soviet Union's fight in World War II and Moscow's intervention in Ukraine.
"It's unbelievable but true. We are again being threatened by German Leopard tanks," he said in the southern city of Volgograd.
"Again and again we are forced to repel the aggression of the collective West," Putin said.
"We aren't sending tanks to their borders but we have something to respond with, and it won't be just about using armored vehicles.Everyone should understand this," he added.
"A modern war with Russia will be completely different."
Since sending troops to pro-Western Ukraine last February Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons against the West if the conflict escalates.
"Readiness to go until the end, to do the impossible for the sake of the motherland, for the sake of truth was and is in the blood, in the character of our multinational people," said Putin.
The 1942-43 Battle of Stalingrad raged for nearly six months and when it was over the city was in ruins and more than a million soldiers and civilians had lost their lives.
The Red Army's victory marked a turning point not only for the Soviet Union, which had suffered several heavy defeats, but also for the Allied forces.
The 80th anniversary of the victory comes as Russia seeks to step up its offensive in Ukraine, bolstered by tens of thousands of reservists mobilised last autumn.
© Agence France-Presse