Putin: Launching military operation in Ukraine ‘the only right decision’

Russian President Vladimir Putin was speaking at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow while up to 11,000 troops marched on the capital's iconic Red Square as Russia celebrated the 77th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.

FILE: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: Alexey NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP

CAPE TOWN - Russian President Vladimir Putin said launching a military operation in Ukraine was "the only right decision".

Putin was speaking at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow while up to 11,000 troops marched on the capital's iconic Red Square as Russia celebrated the 77th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.

The conflict is called the Great Patriotic War in Russia, and 9 May is one of the country's most revered holidays. The day is also a public holiday in that country.

And while thousands congregated in Red Square, millions around the country tuned in to watch events on television.

The marching columns came from all branches of Russia's Armed Forces, including airborne troops, military police, national guardsmen and cadets.

More than 130 armoured vehicles, state-of-the-art battle tanks, S-400 air defence missile systems and intercontinental ballistic missiles were on show.

During his speech, Putin not only praised the achievement of the Soviet people during World War II, but also spoke about the reasons for the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kyiv.

Putin said Russia's military operation in Ukraine was a pre-emptive move against an aggressor and that Russia had to act because a large-scale offensive against the pro-Russian breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine was being planned.

Official opinion polls, which need to be taken with a pinch of salt, still suggest the majority of Russians support Putin.