Putin drew a parallel between what he portrayed as their twin historic quests to win back Russian lands.
After three months of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has hinted that his country may make additional territorial expansion efforts. The suspicions were heightened when Putin, paying tribute to Tsar Peter the Great on his 350th birthday, drew a parallel between their twin historic quests to reclaim Russian lands.
“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.
“No European country recognized it as Russia” when Peter established the new capital.
“Everyone recognized it as Sweden,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin. “What was (Peter) up to?” Retaking and reinforcing. That’s exactly what he did.” He also compared Peter’s campaign to the task that Russia faces today.
“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 we face,” said Putin.
He further insinuated that expansion of the Russian territory was inevitable.
“It’s impossible – do you understand? – impossible to build a fence around a country like Russia. And we do not intend to build that fence,” he said.
The reaction of Ukraine:
“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, adviser to the Ukrainian President, said.
This comes as Putin has repeatedly sought to justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where his forces have destroyed cities, killed thousands, and driven millions from their homes, by advancing a historical view that claims Ukraine lacks a true national identity or a tradition of statehood.
Meanwhile, Zelensky has stated that Ukrainian forces are holding firm. On Thursday, he stated that the troops are standing firm in the flashpoint eastern city of Severodonetsk, where intense street battles with Russian troops could decide the fate of the Donbas region.