Putin likens himself to Peter the Great, suggests Russia is justified in invading Ukraine

Jonny Hallam, Mariya Knight and Irene Nasser

Russian President Vladimir Putin compared himself favorably to Peter the Great, a Russian monarch from the late 17th century, using the likening to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During a visit Thursday to an exhibition dedicated to the first Russian Emperor, Putin attempted to liken Peter the Great’s conquest of Sweden in the 18th century to his own modern day military invasion of Ukraine.

In his comments, Putin argued that Peter the Great was not conquering, but rather fighting over territory that rightfully belonged to Russia.

He went on to draw a parallel to today’s war in Ukraine, suggesting Russia’s recent military actions — where his troops have destroyed Ukrainian cities, and killed thousands of innocent men, women and children — are justified, because Ukraine is not a legitimate sovereign nation, but in fact Russian territory.

“Why did he [Peter the Great] go there?” Putin asked, “He took back and fortified. And it looks like our fate is to “take back and fortify” too, if we are going to assume that these basic values form the basis of our existence then we will succeed in the solution of the tasks that lie ahead,” Putin said.  

Putin continued, adding that European countries didn’t recognize St. Petersburg as Russian at first, equating it to the current situation in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, including Crimea, that the US and European allies don’t acknowledge as Russian.

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