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 is also our lot: to bring back and strengthen,” Putin drew parallels to the war against Ukraine, according to the Interfax news agency on Thursday.

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.

In his statements, the head of state apparently did not rule out a further expansion of Russian territory. “It’s impossible – do you understand? – impossible to build a fence around a country like Russia,” Putin said. “And we have no plans to build that fence.”

On the one hand, Putin justified the war against Ukraine with the 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.

Meanwhile, high-ranking Bundeswehr General Martin Schelleis is warning of serious military dangers for Germany. “We are acutely threatened and attacked,” said the lieutenant general of the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” on Friday. “Basically, we are already at war: war in the information space, cyber attacks.” Schelleis is inspector of the armed forces base and national territorial commander of the Bundeswehr.

As “realistic scenarios” the lieutenant general named “punctual attacks on critical infrastructure, for example by special forces, with drones or speed boats, to disrupt our livelihoods, including with military means”. “We’re not well positioned for that,” warned Schelleis. “Unfortunately, you have to say that.”

In addition, according to the commander, there are threats such as a possible attack with ballistic missiles that Russia had stationed in the Kaliningrad area. “They have now been withdrawn because of the Ukraine war, but they will certainly come back there,” he said. “These rockets could easily reach Berlin. From the point of view of Putin, attempts at blackmail are easy to imagine.”

The commander of the Bundeswehr’s second-largest organizational unit, which is responsible for its entire logistics, complained that the Bundestag had not sufficiently financed the clearly defined needs for national and alliance defense for a long time.

“People just didn’t seriously believe that the Bundeswehr could ever be called upon again on a large scale or even have to be deployed,” he said. “That is why deficits have been accepted. Now we have a lot of catching up to do.”