Putin is not Peter the Great by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga

Russian Tsar Peter the Great not only sought more power and territory, but also wanted his country to become more advanced and progressive. President Vladimir Putin achieves the opposite of his idol by isolating Russia and reducing it to a pariah state.

RIGA – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal aggression against Ukraine can only be explained as an attempt to fulfill an imperialist fantasy – namely, to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great by emulating the territorial conquests of the tsar. But Peter didn’t become “Great” by military success alone. He also introduced modernization reforms and built Saint Petersburg, “a window to Europe” on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

Peter sought more power and territory, but at the same time wanted his country to become more advanced and progressive. Unfortunately, Putin, who sees as an uncrowned Tsar, achieves the opposite of his idol by isolating Russia and reducing it to a pariah state.

Certainly, the scorched earth policy of the Russian army in Ukraine – in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and international law – directly echoes what Peter did to that country during his war with King Charles XII. from Sweden. But Putin’s crackdown on freedom of thought and expression in Russia represents a chilling revival of the totalitarian methods that characterized the Soviet Union.

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