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EXP-RUSSIA-NATO-NYT 05-09

With St. Basil's Cathedral in the background Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks Wednesday before a parade to mark Victory Day in Moscow’s Red Square.

Putin ups anti-U.S. talk

President Vladimir Putin obliquely compared the foreign policy of the United States to that of the Third Reich in a speech on Wednesday commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, apparently in an escalation of anti-American talk within the Russian government.

The comments were the latest in a series of sharply worded Russian criticisms of the foreign policy of the United States — on Iraq, missile defense, NATO expansion and, more broadly, U.S. unilateralism in foreign affairs.

Many Russians say the sharper edge reflects a frustration that Russia’s views, in particular opposition to NATO expansion, have been ignored in the West. Outside of Russia, however, many detected in the new tone a return to Cold War-style antagonism, emboldened by oil wealth.

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Putin’s analogy was a small part of a larger speech, otherwise unambiguously congratulating Russian veterans of World War II, known here as the Great Patriotic War.

"We do not have the right to forget the causes of any war, which must be sought in the mistakes and errors of peacetime," Putin said.

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