russian army military ukraine
© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresensky/FileRussian military trucks pictured in the Belgorod region close to Ukraine's border.
Ukraine openly refused to implement a peace deal with rebels from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics so Russia had no option but to use military force to defend the people living there, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Tuesday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Kiev senior officials had "declared that the Minsk agreements cannot be implemented," Putin recalled, referring to the roadmap to peace in Ukraine brokered by Russia, Germany and France.

The 2014 and 2015 deals detailed how Kiev could reintegrate its breakaway regions by offering them a general amnesty, greater autonomy, and representation in the government. The Ukrainian government stalled progress on their implementation, claiming that it could only proceed with its side of the bargain after retaking control of the rebel-held areas.

Hostilities in eastern Ukraine between government and rebel forces have continued since 2014, when the authorities that came to power in Kiev after the Western-backed Maidan used the military to quash the uprising in the east.

"They publicly refused to [implement the roadmap]. Well, tolerating this genocide that had been going on for eight years was no longer possible," Putin explained.

Comment: According to UN estimates, over 13,000 people, including women and children died during Ukraine's assault on the Donbass.

The Russian president added that Ukraine, backed by Western countries, was being "turned into a foothold against Russia."

"They nourished the sprouts of neo-Nazism on purpose. A clash between Russia and those forces was inevitable, they were selecting the right time for an attack," Putin said.

Russia pre-empted the expected aggression from Kiev by starting its offensive in late February, the Russian leader claimed. He said Moscow will achieve its goals, including the defense of the breakaway republics, which Russia recognized as independent states days before the attack.

The West attempted to retaliate against Moscow with economic sanctions and attempts to isolate it diplomatically and commercially on the international stage. Putin said Russia was too big a country for anyone to really isolate. "We will work with our partners who really want cooperation," he said.

Putin made his remarks during a visit to Russia's Vostochny space launch facility. Tuesday is International Space Day, celebrated on the date when the USSR made the world's first manned mission to space in 1961. Putin remarked that Soviet space-race achievements had come into being despite Moscow's then technological isolation from the West, which served as a good indicator that modern Russia also doesn't need Western technologies to be successful.