Catherine similarly tried to play ‘englightened despot’ as Putin is today

Interesting read:

Nearly 250 years ago, Empress Catherine II “the Great” played a similar hand when she attempted to impress the West while ruthlessly enforcing her authority over Russia and the surrounding region. Catherine presented herself to the world as an “Enlightened” autocrat who did not govern as a despot but as a monarch guided by the rule of law and the welfare of her subjects. Yet at the same time, she annexed much of what is now the Ukraine through wars with the Ottoman Empire and the partition of Poland and brutally supressed the largest peasant rebellion in Russian history.

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