Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has placed the war he has ordered against Ukraine on the same level as the Great Northern War under Russia’s Tsar Peter I and has spoken of a return campaign for Russian soil.

The tsar did not conquer the area around today’s metropolis of St. Petersburg from the Swedes, but won it back. “Apparently it is also our lot: to bring back and strengthen,” Putin drew parallels to the war against Ukraine, according to the Interfax news agency on Thursday.

June 9th is the 350th birthday of Peter the Great, who was the first Russian tsar to give himself the title of Emperor and who, by conquering northern Russia, secured access to the Baltic Sea – as a so-called “window to Europe”. Almost nothing has changed since that time, Putin claimed in a conversation with young companies in the run-up to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Even then, no European state recognized the area as Russian. “In addition to the Finno-Ugric tribes, Slavs have also lived there for centuries,” said the Kremlin chief.

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