Russia's actions in Crimea will make convincing states to follow Kiev and give up nuclear arms all the harder
Published 22/03/2014 | 02:30
Adolf Hitler's 1938 threats to, and eventual occupation of, Czechoslovakia bore some similarities to what is now happening between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukraine.
In 1938, Hitler exaggerated, and stirred up, grievances over language rights in the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia. He directed the local German-speaking leaders inside Czechoslovakia to ensure that they did not reach any settlement with the Czech government. He used the lack of an internal settlement as a basis for seeking to incorporate these areas, known as the Sudetenland, into Germany, under the pretext of protecting the rights of the German speakers.
Western leaders tried to mediate without success, culminating in the showdown at Munich, where British prime minister Neville Chamberlain abandoned Czechoslovakia in return for a piece of paper signed by Hitler and himself in which both agreed on "the desire of our two peoples never to go to war again."