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Sweden invokes Hitler in condemning Russian assault

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21:08 CEST+02:00
Sweden has evoked the memory of Adolf Hitler in condemning Russia's attacks on Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, saying the protection of Russians there did not justify the assault.

"No state has the right to intervene militarily in the territory of another state simply because there are individuals there with a passport issued by that state or who are nationals of the state," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in a statement.

"Attempts to apply such a doctrine have plunged Europe into war in the past... And we have reason to remember how Hitler used this very doctrine little more than half a century ago to undermine and attack substantial parts of central Europe," Bildt said.

Russian warplanes on Saturday bombed targets in Georgia as that country's president declared "a state of war", while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country would "force the Georgian side into peace."

Russia backs the separatist government in South Ossetia and sent in tanks and troops on Friday in response to pro-Western Georgia's military campaign to take back the province which broke away in the early 1990s.

Sweden has called for an immediate end to bombing raids and the withdrawal of Russian troops that have entered Georgia to allow for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Earlier on Saturday, Sweden joined calls for an emergency European Union summit on the escalating conflict in Georgia. Bildt said EU foreign ministers could gather on Monday in Paris.

"There must be a very strong response on the part of the European Union," said Bildt, quoted by Sweden's TT news agency.

Sweden's top diplomat was the international community's high representative in Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1996-1997 following the Balkan wars.

Bildt also evoked the memory of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic in addressing Russia's agression against Georgia.

"We did not accept military intervention by Milosevic's Sserbia in other Yugoslav states on the grounds of protecting Serbian passport holders," he said.

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