“We have just visited an exhibition dedicated to the 350th anniversary of Peter the Great. It is amazing, but almost nothing has changed. (…) Peter the Great led the war in the North for 21 years. “the impression that by fighting Sweden, he was grabbing something. He wasn’t grabbing anything, he was taking over,” Putin said during a meeting with young entrepreneurs in Moscow.

“When he founded a new capital (St. Petersburg – editor’s note), none of the countries of Europe recognized this territory as belonging to Russia. Everyone considered it to be part of Sweden. But since time immemorial , Slavs lived there alongside the Finno-Ugric peoples. (…) It was picking up and strengthening,” he said.

“Apparently, it is also incumbent on us to resume and strengthen,” said the Russian president, seeming to allude to the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

“Yes, there have been times in the history of our country when we were forced to step back, but only to regain strength and move forward,” he said.

Sweden’s defeat in the Great Northern War (1700-1721) had made Russia the main power in the Baltic Sea and an important player in European affairs.

Russia commemorates Thursday the birthday of Tsar Peter the Great, who worked to bring the empire closer to Europe, an echo of the past that clashes three centuries later, in full rupture between Moscow and the West because of the conflict in Ukraine.

To mark the 350th anniversary of the birth of Peter I, who reigned first as Tsar and then as Emperor from 1682 until his death in 1725, President Putin visited an exhibition dedicated to him in Moscow.