Putin compares himself to Peter the Great in Ukraine

Putin compares himself to Peter the Great in Ukraine

Among Vladimir V. Putin's motives for invading Ukraine, his view of himself as being on a historic mission to rebuild the Russian Empire has always loomed large. On Thursday, Mr. Putin went further, comparing himself directly to Peter the Great.

On Thursday, Putin marked the 350th anniversary of Peter's birth by visiting a new multimedia exhibit about the czar in Moscow. He then held a town hall style meeting with young Russian entrepreneurs and opened it by reflecting on Peter's conquest of the Baltic coast during his 18th century war with Sweden.

The land that Peter Peter conquered was described by Putin as rightfully Russian.

He was returning it and strengthening it, Mr. Putin said, leaning back in his armchair, before hinting that he was now doing the same thing in his war in Ukraine. It's been suggested that it has fallen to us to return and strengthen. Putin said that when Peter founded the city of St. Petersburg on the captured land, none of the countries of Europe recognized it as Russian. That remark seemed to be a clear reference to the present day, when no Western country recognized Moscow's claim to Crimea, much less to parts of eastern and southern Ukraine Russia has seized in the last three months.