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Putin compares himself to Peter the Great

Vladimir Putin is said to want to bring Russia back to the strength of the Soviet Union.

But he goes even further: he draws parallels between his reign and that of Tsar Peter the Great.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees parallels between his policies and those of Peter the Great during his war against Sweden in the 18th century. Putin said Thursday after visiting an exhibition marking the 350th birthday of Peter the Great in Moscow that one could get the impression that the tsar had “usurped” something by fighting Sweden. But Peter the Great “didn’t take anything, he brought it back,” Putin added.

When Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg and made it Russia’s capital, “none of the countries in Europe recognized this area as belonging to Russia,” Putin told young Russian entrepreneurs after visiting the “Peter the Great: Birth of an Empire” exhibition . “Everyone considered it part of Sweden. But for as long as anyone can remember, Slavs have lived there side by side with Finno-Ugric peoples.”

“Bringing back and strengthening” is still the task of those responsible in Russia today, the Kremlin chief explained, apparently alluding to the offensive in Ukraine. “Yes, there have been times in our country’s history when we have been forced to retreat – but only to regain our strength and move forward.”

Tsar Peter made Russia a great power

The successes of Peter the Great in the Great Northern War (1700-1721) and the eventual defeat of Sweden led to the supremacy of the Russian Tsarist Empire in the Baltic region and to Russia’s rise to become a major European power.

During his time as Russian tsar and later as emperor, Peter the Great increasingly remodeled his rule along European lines. In the Kremlin’s history policy, however, this plays only a minor role. Today, Moscow emphasizes above all the expansion of Russian territory promoted by Peter the Great.

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