Putin likens himself to Peter the Great as Russian troops resume offensive

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Putin likens himself to Peter the Great as Russian troops resume offensive
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Vladimir Putin has likened his invasion of Ukraine to Peter The Great’s invasion of Sweden as Russian troops resume their offensive in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region.

At a meeting with young entrepreneurs and scientists, the Russian President said: “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).”

In televised comments on day 106 of his war in Ukraine, he compared Peter’s campaign with the task facing Russia today.

“Apparently, 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 that we face.”

A Ukrainian tank on the front line in Sievierodonetsk (Oleksandr Ratushniak/AP) (AP)
A Ukrainian tank on the front line in Sievierodonetsk (Oleksandr Ratushniak/AP) (AP)

Peter the Great, an autocratic moderniser admired by liberal and conservative Russians alike, ruled for 43 years and gave his name to a new capital, St Petersburg – Putin’s hometown – that he ordered built on land he conquered from Sweden.

It was a project that cost the lives of tens of thousands of serfs, conscripted as forced labourers to build Peter’s “window to Europe” in the swamps of the Baltic Sea coast.

“Putin likes leaders he sees as tough, strong managers,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“He wants to be seen as a Peter [the Great]-style moderniser, even though he will go down in history as a cruel ruler more like Ivan the Terrible,” he added.

Putin’s comments came as Russian forces are likely to strike out from the southern Kherson region, which is majority-controlled by Moscow, towards neighbouring Zaporizhzhia.

“The enemy has focused on holding the lines, but at the same time does not cease (its) attempts to resume the offensive in these areas, probably in order to reach the administrative borders of the Zaporizhzhia region,” Oleksei Gromov, deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ General Staff said in a briefing.

The southern part of Zaporizhzhia, including two major cities and a key nuclear plant, was overrun by Moscow’s troops in the early weeks of the war, and remains in Russian hands. Kyiv continues to hold the north of the region, including the capital city of Zaporizhzhia, which was previously a staging post for evacuees from the ruined port of Mariupol.

Gromov did not rule out a Russian assault on the southern Mykolayiv region, which likewise borders Kherson, and the key cultural hub of Odesa, further west along Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

He did not provide further information regarding any such planned attacks.

It came as the UK Government said it is “deeply concerned” after Russian state media reported two captured British men have been sentenced to death.

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, appeared in court in the Russian-controlled territory in Donetsk where they were convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism.

Thursday they were sentenced to death alongside Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, according to reports from state-owned Russian news agency RIA.

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