Peter the Great, late Tsar of Russia, would have been 350 years old today. One reason for President Putin to compare himself with the Emperor in a dubious way: Like Peter back then, he too is trying to reconquer European territory that Russia is said to be entitled to.
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. Peter didn't conquer the area around today's metropolis of St. Petersburg from the Swedes, but rather won it back. "Apparently it's also our lot: to bring them back and strengthen them," Putin said, according to the Interfax news agency, drawing parallels to the war against Ukraine.
Today, 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. On the one hand, Putin justified the war against Ukraine with an alleged oppression of the Russian-speaking population in the country. On the other hand, he also denied Ukraine the basic right of existence and claimed ownership of large parts of the country that historically had been under Russian rule.
As a caring father of the country, Putin presents himself every year in the traditional TV citizens' question time "The Direct Line". This year, however, it will not take place in June as often before. Preparations for the event were underway, but there is no specific date yet, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Interfax agency. However, he ruled out holding the event in June. In recent years, Question Time has always been held in June - with one exception in the Covid year 2020.
"The Direct Line" is a live broadcast lasting several hours in which Russian citizens can describe their personal concerns to the head of the Kremlin. In most cases, Putin promises the callers or viewers that they will solve the problems at hand - be it outstanding salary payments, road repairs or the lack of a connection to the gas network. In the past, however, some political questions were also asked.