Vladimir Putin has said there was no difference between Oliver Cromwell and Joseph Stalin – both were dictators.

Putin was speaking at a press conference on plans to restore statues of Stalin and other communist leaders and referenced the statue of Cromwell that resides outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

'How in particular is Cromwell so different from Stalin?’ he said, according to the Daily Mail. ‘Can you tell me? Not in any way at all. From the point of view of liberals, he is the same bloody dictator.’

It is believed that up to 40 million died under Stalin's reign, half through starvation or imprisonment, the other half fighting Hitler during World War II.

Around 300,000 are believed to have died during the English Civil War and during Cromwell's brutal campaigns in Ireland.

‘He was quite a treacherous dude, one has to say," Putin said of Cromwell.

'And the role he played for Britain was ambiguous. But the monument of him stands there – and no one knocks it down.’

‘You know, the point is not in these symbols.

'The point is that we should treat each period of our history with respect," said Putin, who described the break-up of the Soviet Union as 'a tragedy of the 20th century.'

'Cromwell lived there some time back. For us, this is all very raw.

'So we have to treat each period of our history with care.’

Sir William Thornycroft's statue of Cromwell has divided opinion since it was erected in 1899.