Sunday, June 23, 2024

Putin and “Peter the Great”: An unmistakable comparison

Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin drew a comparison between himself and Russia’s first emperor ‘Peter the Great’ while portraying their twin historic quest to win back the Russian lands. 

On the 350th anniversary of his emperor’s birth, Putin visited an exhibition dedicated to the tsar and hailed his achievements. Putin on Thursday compared his “special” military operation in Ukraine with Peter’s campaign as the Moscow-Kyiv war entered day 106.   

“Peter the Great waged the great northern war for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned [what was Russia’s],” Putin said on Thursday, in the televised remarks. 

“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,” Kremlin leader also said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in his 23rd year in power.

Who was Peter the Great?

Putin compared himself to Peter the Great, who was a moderniser admired by liberal and conservative Russians equally. The tsar ruled for around 43 years and gave his name to the capital, St Petersburg, which he reportedly built on land conquered from Sweden. Interestingly, Putin’s home town is also St Petersburg.

Peter the Great’s project involving Swedish land cost the lives of thousands of serfs, conscripted as forced labourers to build Peter’s “window to Europe” in the swamps of the Baltic Sea coast. 

Just before Putin’s visit to the exhibition, state television aired a documentary praising Peter the Great as a tough military leader who led to the vast expansion of Russian territory at the expense of Sweden and the Ottoman Empire and built a high-tech army and Navy.

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