MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has paid tribute to the Russian military at a ceremony for presenting national awards on the occasion of the Defender of the Fatherland Day, the Kremlin has said.
"We honour those for whom military service became a mission and the meaning of life - true patriots, who reliably guard the sovereignty and security of Russia, and secure the peace of our citizens," Putin said at the award ceremony held at the Kremlin Palace on Friday, Xinhua reported.
The national awards were presented "to soldiers who have committed a heroic deed in the name of the Fatherland and to the best units and formations of the Army and the Navy", according to the Kremlin.
Defender of the Fatherland Day is a holiday observed in Russia, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. It is celebrated on February 23, except in Kazakhstan, where it is celebrated on May 7.
Putin presented a Gold Star medal of the Hero of Russia to the family of Major Roman Filipov, a military pilot who died heroically fighting terrorists in Syria on February 3.
He also awarded the Order of Suvorov to the Red Banner South Military District, the Order of Ushakov to the Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser, and the Order of Nakhimov to the Guard missile cruiser Varyag, according to the Kremlin.
The President thanked Russian servicemen who took part in the anti-terrorism operations in Syria, which "displayed heroism, staunchness and bravery."
"Our soldiers demonstrated their readiness to solve the most complicated tasks in Syria: they act bravely, decisively and courageously. They helped the Syrian army shatter large, well-equipped terrorist groups," Putin said.
Russia started participating in the military operation in Syria in September 2015 at the invitation of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. - AGENCIES