“We have just visited the exhibition dedicated to the 350th anniversary of Peter the Great. Surprisingly, almost nothing has changed. (…) Peter the Great waged the Northern War for 21 years. We got the impression that, fighting with Sweden, he took something. Nothing captured, it was restored, ”Putin said at a meeting with young entrepreneurs in Moscow.
“When he founded a new capital (St. Petersburg), none of the countries of Europe recognized this territory as belonging to Russia. Everyone considered it part of Sweden. But from time immemorial, the Slavs lived there next to the Finno-Hungarian peoples. (…) He recovered and developed,” he continued.
Then, apparently referring to the Russian offensive in Ukraine, the Russian president added: “Apparently, we also have to recover and develop.”
“Yes, in the history of our country there were times when we were forced to retreat, but only in order to recuperate and move forward,” he added.
The defeat of Sweden in the Northern War (1700-1721) made Russia the greatest power on the Baltic Sea and a major player in European affairs.
Today Russia marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of Peter I, who ruled first as tsar and then as emperor from 1682 until his death in 1725 and worked to bring the empire closer to Europe, an echo of the past that resounds three centuries later. in the midst of a rift between Moscow and the West over the war in Ukraine.
The military offensive launched by Russia in the early hours of February 24 in Ukraine has already forced more than 15 million people to flee their homes — more than eight million internally displaced and more than 7.2 million to neighboring countries — according to the latest UN figures. data that rank this refugee crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945).
Also, according to the UN, about 15 million people in Ukraine are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Russian invasion, justified by Putin as the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia that cut across virtually every sector, from banking to sports.
The UN has confirmed that 4,302 civilians have died and 5,217 have been wounded in the war, which is now in its 106th day, stressing that the real numbers could be much higher and will only be known when there is access to fenced areas or under conditions fierce battles.