Addressing the ceremony, the Russian head of state noted that despite the stable military-political situation in Central Asia, terrorist attacks from the outside still posed a threat. Therefore, the opening of the Kant airbase was a necessary and timely measure.
The creation of an air shield in Kyrgyzstan would help the Collective Security Treaty Organisation operate, enhance the potential for adequate and prompt response to possible threats and would be a deterrent for all types of terrorists and extremists, President Putin noted.
The base will make it possible to use combat aviation in rugged mountainous terrain where ground forces are not always able to prevent the movement of international gangs and drug traffickers, Mr Putin said.
The President recalled that Kant has historical links with the air force because it was a training ground for more than 1500 Soviet airmen during World War II. After the war, airmen from 54 countries were trained at Kant.
The Russian President thanked the President of Kyrgyzstan for assistance in organising the base, recalling that Askar Akayev had offered the territory of Kyrgyzstan for the base.
Demonstration flights of warplanes were staged to mark the occasion.
Mr Putin and Mr Akayev also visited the military cantonment.
At a meeting with journalists, President Putin said that the airbase at Kant could be increased and upgraded.
One of the questions put to the Russian President was about the close proximity of the Russian base at Kant to the airbase of the international anti-terrorist coalition located at Manas Airport in Bishkek. Mr Putin said there was no contradiction there. The military facilities would complement each other in counteracting terrorism.
The agreement on setting up the Russian airbase was signed on September 22 of this year during Mr Akayev’s visit to Moscow. Ten to fifteen Russian SU-27 and SU-25 fighter planes, military transport planes and helicopters, as well as 500 Russian troops will be permanently stationed at the base.