Putin compares Ukraine invasion to Peter the Great’s conquests

Putin compares Ukraine invasion to Peter the Great’s conquests
Ukraine hits out at attempt to justify theft of another country’s territory

Vladimir Putin has compared his invasion of Ukraine to Peter the Great’s imperial war against Sweden three centuries ago.

The Russian president used the 350th anniversary of the famous Tsar’s birth to speak plainly about his own aggressive foreign policy.

Referring to the decades-long Great Northern War, Mr Putin claimed the conflict waged by Peter the Great had “returned” territory to Russia, despite European countries feeling at the time that it had instead been stolen from Sweden.

On some of this captured land, the Tsar founded his new capital of St Petersburg, the city where Mr Putin was born almost exactly 250 years later.

“Apparently, it also fell to us to return (what is Russia’s) and strengthen (the country). And if we proceed from the fact that these basic values form the basis of our existence, we will certainly succeed in solving the tasks that we face,” Mr Putin said on Thursday, alluding to his war in Ukraine.

His comments were broadcast on the 106th day of the invasion, which Russia still euphemistically refers to as a “special military operation”.

In response to Mr Putin’s words, Kyiv criticised the Russian president’s attempt to justify the theft of another country’s territory.

“The west must draw a clear red line so the Kremlin understands the price of each next bloody step…we will brutally liberate our territories,” Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisers, said.

Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Mr Putin, who is obsessed by nationalistic history, was deluded if he imagined himself as a new Peter the Great.

<p>A poster in St Petersburg depicts Peter the Great on the 350th anniversary of his birth</p>

A poster in St Petersburg depicts Peter the Great on the 350th anniversary of his birth

“He wants to be seen as a Peter [the Great]-style moderniser, even though he will go down in history as a cruel ruler more like Ivan the Terrible,” he said.

Russia’s war in Ukraine caused almost 8 million Ukrainians to flee their country between 24 February and 2 June.

At least 4,031 Ukrainian civilians have been killed by Russian shelling and air strikes, including 261 children, according to the UN. However, the true death toll is thought to be much higher.

International investigators have launched probes into whether Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine. There have been numerous reports of executions and torture committed by the Kremlin’s soldiers over the last three months.