In all, 27 servicemen took part in the liberation operation, and 16 of them were present for the award ceremony. Mr Medvedev thanked them all for their part in liberating the tanker and said that Russia would continue to fight piracy and take part in joint international efforts to combat this threat.
The Moscow University tanker was carrying oil products from Sudan to China when it was seized by pirates on May 5 in the Arabian Sea, around 500 km from the coast. It was liberated on May 6 by the crew of the anti-submarine ship Marshal Shaposhnikov, which was on patrol to ensure safe passage for shipping in the Gulf of Aden. None of the Russian naval personnel or merchant seamen were injured during the liberation operation.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Comrades!
The Vostok 2010 strategic operations exercises have entered their final phase now. As you know, troops from the Siberian, Far Eastern, Volga and Urals districts, air force and paratroops units, and Pacific Fleet forces are all taking part in these exercises, in which a large amount of military and special equipment is being deployed. As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces I have had to the chance to personally observe one stage of the exercises, and I must that what I saw is impressive.
Now we are on board the battle cruiser Peter the Great – a symbol of the modern Russian Navy’s striking force. Aside from observing the stage of the exercises underway at the moment, we also have a very fine reason to meet, for sailors from our Pacific Fleet will receive state decorations today. They have earned these decorations through their great professional skill and training, and their flawless execution of state missions.
One of these state missions made the headlines all around the country. I am referring to the swift and successful anti-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean region, when our anti-submarine ship Marshal Shaposhnikov carried out a very rapid operation to liberate the crew of our tanker, Moscow University. This carefully planned and competently executed operation carried out with no real problems demonstrated our Navy’s ability to carry out not only global missions to maintain peace in general around the world, but also carry out local missions such as combating piracy. Unfortunately, this has become a very serious threat over recent years. We are working together with other countries to prevent piracy, and this work will continue, despite the concentrated effort and considerable expense involved. But I think this combat has obvious benefits for our country and for our merchant shipping fleet, for those sailing in this part of the world, and for foreign ships too, for all who we help in ensuring safe passage and guaranteeing security.
The operation carried out on May 6 deserves the highest commendation. As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces I want to thank everyone who took part in this operation. In all, 27 people took part, and 16 of them are here today: 14 officers and warrant officers, and two sailors. You did an excellent job. We thank for this and congratulate you sincerely on receiving these state decorations. I propose that we now award the decorations.
Comrades, once again, I congratulate you sincerely and thank you for your well organised and well executed work. You really did save people’s lives, and they will be forever grateful to you for this. I repeat too that we will continue these efforts, because Russia is and must remain a great sea power and it would not be befitting for us to hide in the bushes and leave it to other countries to tackle the problems, biding our time and saving money instead of fulfilling our missions in this part of the world’s ocean. This is not Russia’s way of doing things. We will play our part in this combat, helping to guarantee the safety of our own and foreign shipping fleets, so that they can sail these waters without fear.
I am sure that all of you, as you continue your lives, will remember this emotional moment when you received state decorations on board our flagship, the battle cruiser Peter the Great. Once again, thank you on behalf of our entire country and people. My congratulations to you all!