By Presidential Executive Order, the 201st Gatchina Twice-Red Banner Military Base was awarded the Order of Zhukov. Mr Putin fixed the decoration to the base’s battle flag.
The President also announced that Russia and Tajikistan have signed an agreement extending Russia’s lease on the base until 2042.
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Excerpts from meeting with service members at 201st Russian Military Base
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers, friends, good afternoon,
First of all, I would like to congratulate your entire unit, your entire base, on receiving this state decoration.
Second, I want to let you know that today, the President and I attended the signing of an agreement that will serve as a good legal foundation for the normal operation and development of a Russian military base in Tajikistan. It will be effective through 2042, for 30 years.
Your military unit is known for its combat traditions. Your division which is now the 201st Military Base participated very actively in combat near Leningrad during the Great Patriotic War, then defended the interests of our country in Afghanistan and had a serious influence in stabilising the situation in Tajikistan, where you are located today. This is a major, serious military history. And today, here in Tajikistan, you are at the forefront of pursuing various combat, military and political tasks.
The Russian Military Base in Tajikistan is one of the most important factors of stability in the republic – a republic with which we are linked through special brotherly, close strategic relations; a republic that serves as an outpost for the entire Commonwealth of Independent States in this area, in the very complex and significant field of relations with Afghanistan. There is no need to explain to you how important this is for Tajikistan, for all of Central Asia, and for Russia as well.
”The Russian Military Base in Tajikistan is one of the most important factors of stability in the republic with which we are linked through special brotherly, close strategic relations; a republic that serves as an outpost for the entire Commonwealth of Independent States in this area, in the very complex and significant field of relations with Afghanistan.“
I am certain you will duly accomplish the tasks you are charged with, commendably pursuing this honourable mission and increasing your combat readiness. I very much expect that, as has been the case lately, you will maintain good relationships with local residents who welcome the presence of Russian military in Tajikistan. We must value such attitude since it is a very important factor for proper function of the Russian Military Base in Tajikistan.
I want to reiterate again that along with our base in Kant, Kyrgyzstan, the 201st Russian Military Base in Tajikistan fulfils an important mission of protecting Russia’s interests.
I want to thank the President of Tajikistan and all the Tajikistani people for today’s decision to extend the lease on the military base for 30 more years. I should stress that the Russian Federation, the Russian leadership, and the Russian state will always be highly attentive to your mission, needs, logistical situation, armament and resolution of social issues.
Congratulations once again on your award. I will now pass the floor to my friend and colleague, the President of Tajikistan.
Mr Rahmon, if you please.
President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Thank you very much, Mr Putin.
Comrade officers of the Russian Armed Forces, friends,
First of all, it is a great pleasure to once again welcome President of Russia Mr Putin to Tajikistan in your presence, this time as the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces.
The decision we made together, Mr President, following today’s talks, has great significance for the continued development of our strategic partnership, including its military and technical component.
We perceive our cooperation with Russia in these areas as the major foundation for strengthening our defence capabilities, as a factor for ensuring regional stability. The location of the 201st Military Base in Tajikistan also serves Russia’s interests, including their geopolitical aspect.
Having signed a package of documents on military and military-technical cooperation, including the agreement regarding the 201st Russian Military Base, we have confirmed our mutual desire to take our relations in the field of security to a qualitatively new stage of development. I have no doubt that implementing these agreements will make our mutually beneficial cooperation in this area more active, diverse and effective.
Given the reality of today’s situation, this is a critically important joint step. I don’t think there is any need to talk in detail about the scope of threats posed by international terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organised crime.
Events throughout the world clearly demonstrate that global security problems can only be resolved through joint efforts. Our armed forces must safeguard our freedoms, the territorial integrity of our country and the safety of our people. Therefore, they must constantly improve their combat training, in order to be ready at any minute to defend these sacred concepts. In this regard, Tajikistan and the Russian Federation have acquired vast positive cooperation experience.
I would like to particularly note the role and place of the predecessor of the Russian Military Base, the 201st Gatchina Twice-Red Banner Motorised Infantry Division. As the core of the CIS’ collective peacekeeping forces, it made an enormous input into establishing peace and strengthening stability in Tajikistan. I am certain that you – the commanders and servicemen of the 201st Russian Military Base – will duly follow the mission of your predecessors, making your own input into the process of developing relations of friendship and multifaceted cooperation between our countries and our peoples.
Receiving the Russian state decoration you have earned today, which will decorate your military banner henceforth, once again confirms the truth of my words and the high assessment of your military service by the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces.
I wish all of you valiant warriors of Russia many more successes in your combat training, new achievements in protecting our common interests and strengthening military cooperation and strategic partnership between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Russian Federation.
Thank you very much. Congratulations once again.
Vladimir Putin: I believe that NATO, which was formed during the Cold War, has long-ago lost its primary function and it is unclear why it exists today. There is no more confrontation between two political systems since there are no two systems any longer and no Warsaw Pact, which one way or another was NATO’s rival. So it is unclear why NATO exists to this day.
I think it is largely a throwback to the Cold War. But the existence of this military bloc is a geopolitical reality which we must take into account. To a certain extent, under particular conditions, it can play a positive role when it acts under the resolutions of the United Nations, the UN Security Council.
”Based on the realities of international relations, we are prepared to build normal relations of partnership with NATO. Some of our challenges are certainly common. For example, the fight against drug trafficking, international organised crime, piracy and, I would add, terrorism and extremism.“
Based on the realities of international relations, we are prepared to build normal relations of partnership with this organisation. We have a NATO-Russia Council. Some of our challenges are certainly common, and Mr Rahmon also noted this, not in connection with NATO, but he talked about how there are problems that can only be resolved collectively, together. For example, the fight against drug trafficking, international organised crime, piracy and, I would add, terrorism and extremism. In many of these areas, we are building good relations with NATO member-states and the organisation as a whole.
We would like, at minimum, for NATO not to overstep the bounds of its declared purposes, not to broaden its sphere of activity beyond the parameters set by the documents that define the scope of that activity, not to become a global organisation. We would like for it to transform more quickly (our partners from NATO say that they are supposedly transforming into more of a political organisation) – to more quickly transform into a purely political organisation.
As for advancing its infrastructure – military infrastructure – closer to our borders, this of course has always caused us justified concern, and will continue to do so.
I want to remind you that when East and West Germany were united, the former NATO Secretary General – I believe it was Chairman of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr Woerner that said at the time, “Russia can be certain of at least one thing: that NATO will not move toward its borders.” As we can see, life has turned out differently, and in practice, NATO’s military infrastructure is nearing our borders.
As military servicemen, you fully understand that words are one thing, whereas the presence of missile strike systems or missile defence systems near our borders are another. And this generates real threats to our country. In such case, we will certainly need to design our defence policy such as to cut short these threats. That is how we intend to proceed.