Putin compares self to Peter the Great, says he is taking back Russian lands
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday compared himself to the country’s first emperor, Peter the Great, in a speech marking the 350th anniversary of the figure’s birth.
Putin made the comments while visiting a multimedia exhibit about the 18th-century leader, who led a conquest of the Baltic region while at war with Sweden. Putin remarked that Peter the Great viewed the land as rightfully Russian, drawing a connection to the current war Russia is waging against Ukraine.
“He was returning it and strengthening it,” Putin said, according to The New York Times. “Well, apparently, it has also fallen to us to return and to strengthen.”
Putin also noted that when Peter founded the city of St. Petersburg, “none of the countries of Europe recognized it as Russian.”
“It’s impossible — do you understand — impossible to build a fence around a country like Russia,” Putin added.
Putin has repeatedly attempted to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since the Feb. 24 beginning of the war, which has since resulted in thousands of deaths and millions of displaced people. Shortly after he launched the invasion, Putin said he was “forced” to attack Ukraine due to Western “intransigence” over security issues.
The Russian president’s comments come after the war in Ukraine surpassed 100 days last week.
Ukrainian forces have waged an unexpectedly effective effort at repelling Russia, holding on to the capital city of Kyiv, which U.S. intelligence had first predicted would fall to Russia within 72 hours of the start of the invasion. However, Russia has gained control of a key port city, Mariupol, and continues to maintain advantages in the eastern part of the country.
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